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Making Medical Knowledge$
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Miriam Solomon

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198732617

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198732617.001.0001

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“NIH’s Window to the Health Care Community”

“NIH’s Window to the Health Care Community”

The NIH Consensus Development Conference Program

(p.24) 2 “NIH’s Window to the Health Care Community”
Making Medical Knowledge

Miriam Solomon

Oxford University Press

In this chapter, the history of the NIH Consensus Development Conference Program (1977–2013) is discussed, with a focus on the creation of the program, the evaluations of the program, and the changes in the program over time. The conferences aimed to be perceived as democratic and objective social epistemic practices producing reliable knowledge about healthcare interventions. Panelists were experts without intellectual or financial bias. The conferences were well received in the United States and abroad, even though formal evaluations of them were not strong. Closer analysis suggests that they generally repeated a consensus that already existed in the research community and that their role was therefore mainly the dissemination of an authoritative consensus rather than the production of consensus. The NIH Program also eschewed discussion of ethical, social, economic, or political controversy, focusing only on the scientific issues. The greatest challenge to the NIH Program was the rise of evidence-based medicine in the 1990s.

Keywords:   NIH Consensus Development Conference Program, evidence-based medicine, EBM, social epistemology, objectivity, democracy, dissemination of innovation, controversy, bias, consensus conference

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