Does ‘peer reviewed’ count for anything? - Macleans.ca

Does ‘peer reviewed’ count for anything?

Why medical research can be ‘misleading, exaggerated, or flat-out wrong’

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Just when you think there are absolutes in medicine, a recent article in The Atlantic questions some basic foundations of medical science, claiming that the findings of many studies are “misleading, exaggerated, or flat-out wrong.” In other words, doctors are relying on a system of misinformation to diagnose and treat their patients.

In the article, Dr. John Ioannidis, a professor of medicine and Director of the Stanford Prevention Research Center at Stanford University School of Medicine, states that as much as 90 per cent of the published medical information that doctors rely on is flawed.

In 2005, Dr. Ioannidis published a paper that demonstrated these “flaws” mathematically. From the article in The Atlantic:

80 percent of non-randomized studies (by far the most common type) turn out to be wrong, as do 25 percent of supposedly gold-standard randomized trials, and as much as 10 percent of the platinum-standard large randomized trials.

This is due to factors such as imperfect research techniques and, of course, the bias towards interesting-sounding theories and results over more plausible (but less interesting-sounding) ones.

photo courtesy of joebeone