What is Pragmatic Medicine?

The word pragmatic means ‘based on practical considerations’. The term first appeared in the late 16th century, and derives from Greek pragmatikos, meaning ‘pertaining to fact,’ and the root prattein, ‘to do’. Pragmatic language is used in a wide variety of fields. Despite its wide-ranging definition, the term still has a fairly simple meaning. It is a style of thought that emphasizes pragmatic concerns.

In clinical trials, pragmatic medicine uses randomized controlled trials (RCTs) to test the efficacy and safety of biomedical and behavioral interventions. Such trials aim to capture the experience of real-world patients and use these findings to inform decision makers and regulators. In fact, industry often uses pragmatic RCTs in negotiations with regulators to justify their pricing. But, what are pragmatic trials? This article discusses the difference between these kinds of studies.

As with the theory of realism, pragmatism does not claim that meaning is indivisible or incomparable from use. Rather, it stipulates criteria to distinguish between concepts that have the same meaning. This view is similar to that of deflationists, but pragmatists find deflationist accounts of truth too austere. In addition, pragmatic theories of truth are less specific about what constitutes a concept.

A third figure from the classical American pragmatism golden era is John Dewey. Although he had little to say about the concept of truth, he had many other voluminous works on a variety of subjects. In fact, the index of his works only contains one reference to the notion of truth, while advising readers to “see also assertibility.”