In Medical Studies, Big News Is Probably False News
In medical studies, as in life, the better the news, the more likely it is that someone has it wrong. The Los Angeles Times reports on research conducted at Stanford University that looked at nearly 230,000 trials in many disciplines, for which study results claimed a “very large effect.” When other scientists tried to duplicate the results, the “very large effect,” was evident in less than 10 percent of the studies. One problem, the researchers found, was that in general, blockbuster studies tended to be small studies, with fewer than 100 subjects who experienced fewer than 20 medical events. More bad news about good news: The studies that claimed a very large effect tended to measure intermediate effects — for example, whether patients who took a statin drug reduced their levels of bad cholesterol, rather than the incidence of disease. Oh that. Read more in the Los Angeles Times.