Missing in Action: Evidence

There is a systematic flaw in evidence based practice – there is a bias in research towards positive results which is misleading.  Physiotherapists should be aware of this systematic flaw in evidence based practice which has been highlighted in a systematic review of studies concerning publication bias.  This review found that: publication bias effects every field of medicine, half of all trials go missing in action and positive findings are twice as likely to be published.

At TEDMED 2012, Ben Goldacre highlighted this startling reality, that doctors are not able to read all the studies conducted on a pharmaceutical before prescribing it to their patients. This is because of a bias in medical research toward positive results – while one study confirming a drug’s effectiveness may be published, the results of other studies may simply be unavailable. Goldacre warns that about half of all drug trial result are buried – and this is across all medical fields – and thus doctors are left hugely uninformed even as they reach for their prescription pads.

When a new drug gets tested, the results of the trials should be published for the rest of the medical world — except much of the time, negative or inconclusive findings go unreported, leaving doctors and researchers in the dark. In this impassioned talk, Ben Goldacre explains why these unreported instances of negative data are especially misleading and dangerous.

This week’s TED Weekends on the Huffington Post explores Ben Goldacre’s talk on the truth about medical research. Below, find a selection of essays to pique your interest: