Dianthus Medical Blog Archive

Index of Statistics

New Lancet policy on systematic reviews

The Lancet have recently introduced an interesting new policy. They now require anyone submitting the results of research (not just randomised trials, apparently, but all research) to The Lancet to include a systematic review with their research. This can be a reference to a recently published systematic review, but if no such review exists, then the authors are required to do their own systematic review and report it within the paper.

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Worrying scientific illiteracy among our elected representatives

Thanks to the wonders of Twitter, I have just found out (via @bengoldacre and @DrEvanHarris) that one of our esteemed elected representatives, David Tredinnick MP, has tabled 3 Early Day Motions singing the praises of homoeopathy.

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Toothbrushing and cardiovascular disease

Today's health story of toothbrushing and cardiovascular disease shows an association, not causation. Health journalists: please try to learn about the difference. Continue reading→

Sausages, steaks, and socioeconomic status

A story in the news today tells us that sausages (and indeed other kinds of processed meats) increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, whereas steaks (and other forms of unprocessed read meats) do not. This is based on a study published in Circulation, which rather annoyingly, is behind a paywall, so I haven't read the full paper. The study was done at the Harvard School of Public Health, and shame on them for not making their research freely available in an open-access journal.

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EMWA conference, day 4

Well, the EMWA conference is all over now, and I am safely back in London, having cunningly dodged the ash cloud by a rather small margin on both my outward and return journeys.

The final day of the conference began with a plenary lecture about the importance of compliance with promotional codes, such as that by the ABPI, when writing materials that could be used for promotional purposes.  One of the great challenges in this area is that codes are not harmonised across countries, so material that might be perfectly compliant in the UK might fall foul of the code in Germany, for example, or vice versa. Definitely an area with many pitfalls for the unwary.

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Evidence based footcare part 2

As an update to my earlier post about some foot cream that was supposed to stop me getting blisters when training for and running in the Brighton Marathon, I now have the results.

I used the cream on my left foot, but not on my right, for about 3 weeks before the race.

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Dodgy statistics on airport security

I wonder if I should start a "dodgy statistic of the month" competition? I've just seen a good candidate for the prize this month, namely a story that "Nine out of 10 British people are happy to use full-body scanners being rolled out at UK airports".

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Breast cancer screening and peer review

I've been thinking some more about the paper on breast cancer screening that I blogged about last week.

Just to recap, a paper was published last week claiming that the benefits of breast cancer screening comfortably outweigh the harms. This paper was picked up by the media, who reported its conclusions almost entirely without any critical evaluation, simply taking the authors conclusions as established fact.

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Breast cancer screening part 2

I blogged yesterday about how a story about the latest research in breast cancer screening had hit the news, even though the research had not yet been published. I noticed later in the day that there were huge numbers of tweets about the study on Twitter, almost all of which seemed to say that it had now been "proven" that breast cancer screening did more good than harm. It's disappointing to see so many people uncritically believing what they hear in the media.

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Does Tamiflu prevent complications of flu?

There was a very strange story surrounding yesterday's publication of a systematic review of the role of drugs such as Tamiflu in treating flu. This made the lead story on yesterday's Channel 4 News. The story involved the Cochrane Collaboration, the British Medical Journal, and Roche (makers of Tamiflu), and I have to say I don't think any of them has emerged from the story with much credit.

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