Bengt G. Eriksson & Jan Kåre Hummelvoll

Relevance and Evidence

The purpose of this article is to describe central aspects of the evidence movement, discuss the hierarchy of evidence and to relate the discussion on evidence based practice (EBP) by using a concrete example, namely co-operative research in the practical field conducted by the Institute of Mental Health and Society, Hedmark University College. We consider that this research milieu can be regarded as one of many examples of how the intentions of the Plan of Action can be pursued and developed further. In several ways the Plan of Action was a ground-breaking step towards achieving a more holistic and qualitative support for people with mental health disabilities. The EBP movement has proposed a working model which is supposed to lead to the best possible help that society can provide for vulnerable groups, including persons with mental health disabilities. This article argues that scientific knowledge, professional expertise and users' experiences, views and wishes should be valued equally – and should serve as a basis when making decisions about treatment and care of individual patients (situated evidence). Concerning the legitimacy hierarchy of evidence, we argue against the one-sided prioritization of RCT studies, and hold that a variety of data collection methods and modes of analyses could and should be used – and that they should be complementary to each other.