Can a tool for doctors ‘fix’ evidence-based foreign aid?
Monday, April 21, 2014
As development institutions like the World Bank look for ways to make their projects and interventions more evidence-based, development practitioners have run into a problem faced by doctors a generation ago.
While there may be a plethora of primary source studies on the effectiveness of an intervention, studies use different data and methodologies and often come to differing — and sometimes conflicting — conclusions.
In an effort to make the medicine more evidence-based, medical researchers came up with “systematic reviews” of the research literature in the 1990s. The reviews are meta-analyses of data from a range of studies that have been screened for quality. Today, systematic reviews — known as “Cochrane reviews” — for the nonprofit that oversees them — are seen as a gold standard in judging the effectiveness of medical interventions.