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Update 1/22: this was originally in our “Found on the Net” sidebar, but it’s attracted enough comments that it belongs in the mainstream.

I was researching the coverage of statins on Health News Review, the great e-patient resource we’ve often covered, and I stumbled on their page Tips for understanding studies. Good: “does the language fit the evidence?”, “absolute versus relative risk,” “number needed to treat,” etc.

I was amazed to learn recently that many (most?) physicians get no advanced training in med school on how to critically evaluate whether the correct statistic was used in a paper, nor how to even understand what they mean. That would explain why Gigerenzer et al found that most doctors got it wrong (we reported on their great 2008 paper). Turns out the same is often true for journal editors and peer reviewers!

Lesson: e-patient, fend for thyself.


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