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The importance of theories in health care

Alderson, P; (1998) The importance of theories in health care. BMJ , 317 (7164) pp. 1007-1010. 10.1136/bmj.317.7164.1007. Green open access

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Abstract

“Medical journals and research funders are mainly concerned with practical factual research, not with research that develops theories.” This widespread view includes several assumptions: that research and facts can be separated from theory; that considering theories is not necessarily practical or useful; and that thinking about theories means developing them. But theories are at the heart of practice, planning, and research. All thinking involves theories, and it is not necessary to read academic texts about theories before using them—any more than it is essential to read texts on reproductive medicine before having a baby. Because theories powerfully influence how evidence is collected, analysed, understood, and used, it is practical and scientific to examine them. Hypotheses are explicit, but when theories are implicit their power to clarify or to confuse, and to reveal or obscure new insights, can work unnoticed.

Type: Article
Title: The importance of theories in health care
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1136/bmj.317.7164.1007
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.317.7164.1007
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Social Research Institute
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1483870
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