Abstract: This talk will focus on a grant application I’m in the process of drafting.
The project relates to the presence of widespread uncertainty regarding the effectiveness of many medical interventions. Whilst we know that many medical interventions can be extremely beneficial and life saving, others may have no or very marginal benefits, un- or under-documented harms, or both. The result is that there is a significant amount of uncertainty about the effectiveness of medical interventions at a general level. This is coupled with effects resulting from human psychology and the way in which information about medical interventions is communicated that tend to lead to overly optimistic beliefs about the benefits and harms of treatments.
I describe the current epistemological status with regards to medical effectiveness ‘Broad Medical Uncertainty’, and the plan for this research project is to consider what the ethical implications of Broad Medical Uncertainty are. This includes establishing further what kinds of uncertainty are present and in what areas of medical research, medical decision making, and health policy making they play a role; and what different actors’ obligations are given the presence of Broad Medical Uncertainty (e.g. what should medical researchers, healthcare professionals, and patients do).
This internal talk is for Oxford Uehiro Centre members and associates.
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