of Some Questions to ask of a medical study:
What did the trial actually prove and what part of
the authors’ conclusions remains speculation? (Conclusions that go beyond what the data warrants represent the
most common problem in clinical trials published today.)
there any features of the specific treatment protocol employed that bias the
results in a particular fashion?
(This is often a key question.)
3. What specific type of patient was studied in the trial and are there compelling reasons to think that the trial results extend beyond the particular patient population in the trial?
4. Does a trial’s positive outcome apply only to a limited subgroup of the patient’s studied? (This type of result is less reliable.)
5. Additional questions if the study is a meta-analysis:
How similar are the patient populations in the trials that are being combined?
(A treatment may benefit one patient
population, but not benefit another patient group. Adding divergent
patient populations may obscure different outcomes that may occur for particular
How similar are the treatment strategies being combined in the various trials?
(The closer the treatment strategies
are to being identical, the more reliable the meta-analysis.)
Is the meta-analysis authored by a strong proponent of one side of a medical
controversy that the meta-analysis is studying?
this is the case, the resulting meta-analysis should be considered potentially
biased until proven otherwise.)
Is the meta-analysis a “network meta-analysis”?