Category: Clinical Trials

Psychology Journal Bans Significance Testing

This is perhaps the first real crack in the wall for the almost-universal use of the null hypothesis significance testing procedure (NHSTP). The journal, Basic and Applied Social Psychology (BASP), has banned the use of NHSTP and related statistical procedures from their journal. They previously had stated that use of these statistical methods was no longer required but can be optional included....

/ February 25, 2015
Yes, it's true that placebos are just as powerful as homeopathy. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean what believers in integrative medicine think it does.

Placebo, Are You There?

By Jean Brissonnet, translation by Harriet Hall Note: This was originally published as “Placebo, es-tu là?” in Science et pseudo-sciences 294, p. 38-48. January 2011. It came to my attention in the course of an e-mail correspondence with the editors of that magazine, where one of my own articles was published in French translation in January 2015. I thought this was the...

/ February 24, 2015

2015 NHIS Report on Complementary Health Approaches (whatever that means)

Back in 2004, data from the 2002 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) appeared in a report titled “Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use Among Adults: United States, 2002.” It showed a whopping 62% of adults had used CAM in the past 12 months, but only if prayer for health reasons was included. With prayer excluded, the percentage was substantially lower, at 35%. “CAM”...

/ February 19, 2015

Glucosamine Update

Osteoarthritis, the “wear-and-tear” type of arthritis, affects a great many of us as we grow older. Knee pain is a common symptom. The diet supplements glucosamine and chondroitin have been proposed as a more “natural” treatment than pharmaceuticals, and they are components of a number of proprietary “joint health” formulations like Osteo Bi-Flex. The GAIT study (Glucosamine/Chondroitin Arthritis Intervention Trial), compared glucosamine,...

/ February 17, 2015

A Scientist in Wonderland

Edzard Ernst is one of those rare people who dare to question their own beliefs, look at the evidence without bias, and change their minds. He went from practicing alternative medicine to questioning it, to researching it, to becoming its most prolific critic. I have long admired his work, and I finally met him in person when we were invited to speak...

/ February 3, 2015

Screening for disease in people without symptoms: The reality

One of the most contentious questions that come up in science-based medicine that we discuss on this blog is the issue of screening asymptomatic individuals for disease. The most common conditions screened for that we, at least, have discussed on this blog are cancers (e.g., mammography for breast cancer, prostate-specific antigen screening for prostate cancer, ultrasound screening for thyroid cancer), but screening...

/ February 2, 2015
Ebola_virus_virion

Is the Ebola Crisis a Reason to Skip RCTs?

In a recent “Perspective” article in The New England Journal of Medicine, three physicians (Drs. Cox, Borio, and Temple) make a strong case for not letting the rush to save Ebola patients tempt us to deviate from good science and skip the randomized controlled trial (RCT). Their arguments cut to the essence of the scientific approach to medicine, and they deserve careful...

/ January 6, 2015

Acupuncture for Withdrawal Symptoms in Critically Ill Infants

The practice of medicine, particularly our pharmaceutical and surgical interventions, involves a constant struggle between risk and benefit. If the physiology or anatomy of the human body is altered, even with the best of intentions, there is always a potential downside. There are certainly instances where the risk to benefit ratio is extremely favorable or unfavorable and the right recommendation is obvious,...

/ January 2, 2015
Gordie-Howe

Stem cells versus Gordie Howe’s stroke, part 2

Another Christmas has come and gone, surprisingly fast, as always. I had thought that it might make a good “last of 2014” post—well, last of 2014 for me, anyway; Harriet and Steve, at least, will be posting before 2014 ends—to do an end of year list of the best and worst of the year. Unfortunately, there remains a pressing issue that doesn’t...

/ December 29, 2014
GordieHowe1

Stem cells versus Gordie Howe’s stroke

Note: There is now a major update to this story published here, which explains a lot of the questions remaining in this blog post. Seven years ago I returned to Michigan, where I was born and spent the first quarter century of my life, after an absence of more than 20 years. In the interim, I had done my surgical residency and...

/ December 22, 2014