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Arch Hellen Med, 24(1), January-February 2007, 22-33


Health program evaluation and evidence-based health care

Center for Health Services Research, Department of Hygiene and Epidemiology, Medical School, University of Athens, Athens, Greece

This review focuses on the necessity of evaluation of health programs for their effectiveness and safety, and examines the methods used for evaluation. The scientific movement for evidence-based health care or evidencebased medicine is presented, the reasons for its expansion are explained and its role in contemporary medical practice is analysed. Despite the unquestionable contribution of medicine to the health of the population, there is great concern worldwide about ineffectiveness of health care and iatrogenic morbidity. A part of these problems stems from lack of validation of the effectiveness of many health programs and problems with the diffusion of medical information. Consequently, it has become increasingly necessary to use appropriate techniques for the evaluation of preventive, diagnostic, therapeutic and health promotion programs. Among the evaluation techniques used, randomized controlled trials have proved the most useful in the majority of cases. Evidence-based health care is a scientific effort for systematic evaluation of health programs, effective preparation of health professionals and services to make use of the evaluation data, and application of the evaluation results in the decision-making process in health care. This effort is guided by specialized organizations and contributes to the reduction of subjectivism in medical practice, improvement of the effectiveness and safety of medical interventions and health services and to reduction of waste of resources.

Key words: Effectiveness, "Evidence-based medicine", Health.

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