Claims: are they justified?

Not all claims about the effects of treatments are reliable. Well-informed treatment decisions require reliable information.

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Know Your Chances

This book has been shown in two randomized trials to improve peoples' understanding of risk in the context of health care choices.

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Sunn Skepsis

Denne portalen er ment å gi deg som pasient råd om kvalitetskriterier for helseinformasjon og tilgang til forskningsbasert informasjon.

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James McCormick with another parody/spoof of the Cee Lo Green song ‘Forget You’ to prompt scepticism about many drug treatments.

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How do you regulate Wu?

Ben Goldacre finds that students of Chinese medicine are taught (on a science degree) that the spleen is “the root of post-heaven essence”.

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Screen test

Ben Goldacre notes that even if people realize that screening programmes have downsides, people don’t regret being screened.

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Publish or be damned

Ben Goldacre points out the indefensible practice of announcing conclusions from research studies which haven’t been published.

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Weasels Are on the Loose

Weaseling is the use of certain words to weaken a claim, so that the author can say something without actually saying it and avoid criticism

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Cancer Screening Debate

This blog discusses problems that can be associated with cancer screening, including over-diagnosis and thus (unnecessary) over-treatment.

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Testing Treatments

Testing Treatments is a book to help the public understand why fair tests of treatments are needed, what they are, and how to use them.

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Does it work?

People with vested interests may use misleading statistics to support claims about the efects of new treatments.

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Earlier testing is not always better, and can lead to overdiagnosis and overtreatment.

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Even quality control steps, such as peer-review, can be affected by conflicts of interest.

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Exaggeration and hopes or fears can lead to unrealistic expectations about treatment effects.

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DISCERN online

A questionnaire providing a valid and reliable way of assessing the quality of written information on treatment choices.

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The placebo effect

A video by NHS Choices explaining what the placebo effect is, and describing its role in medical research and the pharmaceutical industry.

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From person to patient

Screening will inevitably turn some people who test ‘positive’ into patients – a transformation not to be undertaken lightly. ‘If […]

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Mother’s kiss

Low-tech approaches can have dramatic effects too. Young children sometimes place small objects – plastic toys or beads, for example […]

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Breast cancer

The treatment of breast cancer provides another example of professional uncertainty. There is considerable variability in the use of surgery, […]

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Mutilating surgery

Until the middle of the 20th century, surgery was the main treatment for breast cancer. This was based on the […]

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Biased ethics

‘If a clinician tries a new therapy with the idea of studying it carefully, evaluating outcomes, and publishing the results, […]

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Marketing-based medicine

‘Internal documents from the pharmaceutical industry suggest that the publicly available evidence base may not accurately represent the underlying data […]

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The Yellow Card Scheme

The Yellow Card Scheme was launched in Britain in 1964 after the thalidomide tragedy highlighted the importance of following up […]

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Believing is seeing

The British doctor Richard Asher noted in one of his essays for doctors: ‘If you can believe fervently in your […]

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When practitioners disagree

In this sub-section Introduction (this page) Caffeine for breathing problems in premature babies Antibiotics in pre-term labour Breast cancer Introduction […]

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The Screening Circus

In 2009, a recently retired professor of neurology with a long-standing interest in stroke prevention learnt that neighbours had received […]

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Selling screening

‘Selling screening can be easy. Induce fear by exaggerating risk. Offer hope by exaggerating the benefit of screening. And don’t […]

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Is anyone normal?

Whole-body CT scans Among the tests on offer at private clinics are whole-body computed tomography (CT) scans to look at […]

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At one time, doctors were uncertain whether pregnant women who had previously had miscarriages and stillbirths could be helped by […]

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Commercial companies are not alone in trumpeting the advantages of new treatments while down-playing drawbacks. Professional hype and enthusiastic media […]

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Mechanical heart valves

Drugs are not the only treatments that can have unexpected bad effects: non-drug treatments can pose serious risks too. Mechanical […]

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2010 saw another drug – rosiglitazone, better known by the trade name Avandia – hitting the headlines because of unwanted […]

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Although drug-testing regulations have been tightened up considerably, even with the very best drug-testing practices there can be no absolute […]

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Thalidomide is an especially chilling example of a new medical treatment that did more harm than good. [1] This sleeping […]

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