2-10 All fair comparisons and outcomes should be reported

Many fair comparisons never get published, and outcomes are sometimes left out. Those that do get published are more likely to report favourable results. As a consequence, reliance on published reports sometimes results in the beneficial effects of treatments being overestimated and the adverse effects being underestimated. Biased under-reporting of research is a major problem that is far from being solved. It is scientific and ethical malpractice, and wastes research resources.

Be aware of the risk of biased underreporting of fair comparisons, whether or not the authors of systematic reviews have addressed this risk.

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Common Sources of Bias

Bias (the conscious or unconscious influencing of a study and its results) can occur in different ways and renders studies less dependable.

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Cherry Picking

Cherry-picking results that only support your own conclusion may mean ignoring important evidence that refutes a treatment claim.

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Forest Plot Trilogy

Synthesising the results of similar but separate fair comparisons (meta-analysis) may help by yielding statistically more reliable estimates

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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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