Dianthus Medical Blog Archive

Index of 2014

Dianthus Medical now has a YouTube channel

We have now well and truly joined the social media age with our own YouTube channel. Our first video is about my recent trip to Vienna for the DIA conference.

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Student tuition fees and disadvantaged applicants

One of the most significant political events of the current Parliament has been the huge increase in student tuition fees, which mean that most university students now need to pay £9000 per year for their education.

One of the arguments against this rise used by its opponents was that it would put off young people from disadvantaged backgrounds from applying to university. Supporters of the new system argued that it would not, as students can borrow the money via a student loan to be paid back over a period of decades, so no-one would have to find the money up front.

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Should we eat 7 portions of fruit and veg a day?

Today's big health news story is a new study showing that eating 5 portions of fruit and veg a day is not enough, and that we all need to eat at least 7.

According to The Guardian, "Eating at least seven portions of fresh fruit and vegetables a day was linked to a 42% lower risk of death from all causes." That's one of my pet hates in health reporting right there: nothing you do lowers your risk of death from all causes. Your risk of death remains 100% no matter what you eat. Few things are more certain in medicine.

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The zombie statistic that just won't die

I have written more than once before about how the commonly heard statistic "50% of all clinical trials are not published" is nonsense. It is a zombie statistic: no matter how many times you try to kill it, it just keeps on coming. And now it turns out its supporters are becoming increasingly dishonest in their attempts to defend it.

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As some of you may know, I'm currently studying towards a degree in social sciences with the Open University in what I laughingly refer to as my spare time. At the moment, I'm doing a psychology module.

I went to a tutorial last night, in which we discussed (among other things) the fascinating concept of memory: how we store and retrieve memories, and the various things that can go wrong with that process. This reminded me of a really bizarre experience I had with my own memory many years ago, which I'd like to share with you.

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DIA EuroMeeting, Vienna

We'll be exhibiting at the DIA EuroMeeting in Vienna on 25–27 March. If you're going to be at the conference, I do hope you'll stop by and say hello. We'll be on stand Y511.

We'll be showing a demo of our new interactive web-based randomisation system (IWRS). We might even have sweeties as well.

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Dubai Miracle Garden and the strange lack of insects

I'm currently in Dubai to deliver some training in clinical study design to a group of medical advisers from a pharmaceutical company. I'd heard that Dubai is a fascinating place and I've never been here before, so I arranged my schedule to give myself a little time to have a look around.

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Big data

I gave a talk yesterday at a CCRA event about big data, and promised the audience I'd post my slides on my blog.

So for the benefit of anyone who was at the talk who wants a record of what I said, or even for anyone who wasn't at the talk who is interested in a few of my random thoughts on big data, here are my slides.

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I recently recorded a piece for the Pod Delusion on care.data. If you like listening to podcasts, then you can find it here. The Pod Delusion is well worth a listen: apart from my own occasional contributions, it also unfailingly has a great deal of other interesting material.

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Minimum alcohol pricing

A lengthy article was published in the BMJ today about the decision the government made last year to abandon their previously-stated plans on minimum alcohol pricing. As you might expect from the BMJ, with their strident anti-industry agenda, the article claims this is all about a terrible conspiracy in which the evil drinks industry and the government collude together to put the interests of the evil drinks industry ahead of public health.

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