N=1 Reflections Roundup

by Samantha CopelandDSC_0033

I’d like to shout out a hearty thank you for the last two weeks’ contributions from the
participants in our January workshop, N=1: Causal Reasoning and Evidence for Clinical Practice! A diverse group of participants has given us a variety of things to think about, compliments to savour, and tough questions to ponder—thank for making February interesting too.

The two weeks of reflections on N=1 started with Alex Broadbent who, with Jonathan Fuller, ended the workshop with some hard philosophical questions about how the evidence generated in medical research can and should be used to make predictions in clinical care. Alex pointed out that the interdisciplinary nature of the workshop was one of its strongest points—getting theoretical thinkers together with the practitioners who put theories to work in practice is one of the key aims of CauseHealth, and we are so pleased the workshop inspired many such connections. Physiotherapists Roger Kerry and Neil Maltby, and philosophers Jonathan Fuller and Stephen Mumford, also spoke in their reflections about how important it was–and is–to bridge this disciplinary gap.

Other gaps were bridged by the N=1 workshop too—Matthew Low in particular reflects on N=1 discussions about the move from generalized evidence to particular cases in clinical care. Part of the trouble here is how we might integrate two approaches to causality: isolating factors in research to demonstrate general relationships and then applying that knowledge to real people, who are contextual, complicated, and unique. For Frank Zenker, insights shared at N=1 suggest that more work can be done to understand the role that social causes play in medicine. Karin Mohn Engebretsen pointed out the importance of holism raised by presentations at N=1; Adam Bjerre reflected upon what this means for meaning in medical science. Junaid Hassan spoke from a personal perspective on the need for practitioners to have real tools to work with in order to help patients; Tobias Lindstad shared with us how difficult it is from the perspective of the practicing professional to walk the line between useful tools and the unique needs of patients. Elise Arnaudo’s reflection draws our attention to the fact that these difficulties can end up leaving whole groups of patients in the lurch, if we are not careful. In turn, Anne Rose Røsbak Feragen brings up the pressure placed on professionals, who must satisfy both those they treat and those who would judge their methods. Perhaps Chris Worsfold put it best, when he reflects on the opportunity CauseHealth presents, to ‘redress the balance’.

So, now we have a wealth of things to think about, in preparation for future CauseHealth workshops! The enthusiasm of the participants in this and past workshops, and of our network members and followers at large, is swelling—the CauseHealth Physio conference planned in Nottingham this coming May promises to be intense as a result. Look for reflections on that event from the last week in May!

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