Ethics, Evidence Based Sports Medicine, and the Use of Platelet Rich Plasma in the English Premier League

Michael McNamee, Catherine Coveney, Alex Faulkner, Jonathan Gabe

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The use of platelet rich plasma (PRP) as a novel treatment is discussed in
the context of a qualitative research study comprising 38 interviews with sports
medicine practitioners and other stakeholders working within the English Premier League during the 2013–16 seasons. Analysis of the data produced several overarching themes: conservatism versus experimentalism in medical attitudes; therapy perspectives divergence; conflicting versions of appropriate evidence; subcultures; community beliefs/practices; and negotiation of medical decision-making. The contested evidence base for the efficacy of PRP is presented in the context of a broader professional shift towards evidence based medicine within sports medicine. Many of the participants while accepting this shift are still committed to casuistic practices where clinical judgement is flexible and does not recognize a context-free hierarchy of evidentiary standards to ethically justifiable practice. We also discuss a tendency in the data collected to consider the use of deceptive, placebo-like, practices among the clinician participants that challenge dominant understandings of informed consent in medical ethics. We conclude that the complex relation between evidence and ethics requires greater critical scrutiny for this emerging specialism within the medical community.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)344–361
Number of pages18
JournalHealth Care Analysis
Issue number4
Early online date29 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


  • ethics
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • placebo

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