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Trial Troubles

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Randomised trials are the best way to test treatments – to protect us from duds, and direct us to those that work. But they can mislead. Randomisation is necessary, but not sufficient. Measure enough endpoints, peek at the data, do enough tests, and enthusiasts can always squeeze out a “positive” result.

To protect ourselves we should agree before we start on the basic design, how many participants, the primary endpoint and statistical tests – it’s called trial registration. All good  journals insist on it – or claim to – but sometimes lower their standards for exciting papers. is checking up.

We will report on unregistered and late registered trials, and on altered primary endpoints, sample sizes or statistical tests. We will note trial  funding, and compare the sins of pharma with the public and charitable sectors.  Here’s our firstsecond, and third offenders,

Jim Thornton

More trial troubles

Progesterone for short cervix

Circumcision and HIV

Cerclage pessary

Speech therapy after stroke

Legal representation

Obesity surgery

Muddled psychiatry


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