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GOBSAT (aka ‘best practices’)

If there was ever a buzz-term that was likely to trigger the hell out of me, it’s got to be ‘best practices.’ Why, you ask? Well, because ‘best practices’, which is intended to mean ‘professional consensus’, is often the antithesis of research evidence and has frequently used as a justification for a lot of really substandard practice. I’m hardly alone in thinking this. A great book by Trisha Greenhalgh (“How to Read a Paper: The Basics of Evidence-Based Medicine), points out that professional judgement in medicine has long been guided by:

  1. Decision-making by anecdote

  2. Decision-making by press cutting, and

  3. Decision-making by GOBSAT (good old boys sat around a table).

Here’s what Greenhalgh has had to say about GOBSAT:

Greenhalgh also kindly supplies this handy chart of some GOBSAT highlights from medicine:

To demonstrate that policing has its own version of a GOBSAT ‘greatest hits.’ I’ve taken the time to draw a chart illuminating some special moments.

Before Canadians pat themselves too much on the back for no longer buying into some of the above, may I refer you to the Can-SEBP Square Assessments, which include a host of ‘best practices’ with little to no credible evidence base.


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