Rating a Published Clinical Trial…

…can be done in 10 minutes or less, using the Jadad score.  There’s a full explanation in the original paper,  but suffice it to say, it’s pretty easy to identify sketchy studies using this method.  Aaron Carroll, writing in the New York Times, shows how this affects the credibility of nutrition research.  For those who want to try this at home, here’s the scorecard from the paper:

  1. Was the study described as randomized? (YES/NO)
  2. Was the study described as double blind? (YES/NO)
  3. Was there a description of withdrawals and dropouts? (YES/NO)

Give 1 point for each YES, and 0 points for each NO, with no partial credit.  Then assess these

  • For question 1, GIVE 1 additional point if the method to generate the sequence of randomization was described and it was appropriate (table of random numbers, computer generated, etc.) Otherwise, DEDUCT 1 point if the method to generate the  sequence of randomization was described and it was inappropriate (patients were allocated alternately, or according to date of birth, hospital number,etc.)
  • For question 2, GIVE 1 addtional point if the method of double blinding was described and it was appropriate (identical placebo, active placebo, dummy, etc.).  Otherwise, DEDUCT 1 point if the study was described as double blind but the method of blinding was inappropriate (e.g., comparison of tablet vs. injection with no double dummy).

Hey, it’s not perfect, but then neither is the APGAR score, and look where that’s gotten us.

Tip from Andrew Gelman’s often contrarian Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science blog.

 

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