1-7 Beware of conflicting interests

People with an interest in promoting a treatment (in addition to wanting to help people), such as making money, may promote treatments by exaggerating benefits and ignoring potential harmful effects. Conversely, people may be opposed to a treatment for a range of reasons, such as cultural practices.

Ask if people making claims that a treatment is effective have conflicting interests. If they have conflicting interests, be careful not to be misled by their claims about the effects of treatments.

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Know Your Chances

This book has been shown in two randomized trials to improve peoples' understanding of risk in the context of health care choices.

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A University of Massachusetts Medical School text on biases.

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Weasels Are on the Loose

Weaseling is the use of certain words to weaken a claim, so that the author can say something without actually saying it and avoid criticism

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Does it work?

People with vested interests may use misleading statistics to support claims about the efects of new treatments.

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Even quality control steps, such as peer-review, can be affected by conflicts of interest.

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Marketing-based medicine

‘Internal documents from the pharmaceutical industry suggest that the publicly available evidence base may not accurately represent the underlying data […]

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Believing is seeing

The British doctor Richard Asher noted in one of his essays for doctors: ‘If you can believe fervently in your […]

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The Screening Circus

In 2009, a recently retired professor of neurology with a long-standing interest in stroke prevention learnt that neighbours had received […]

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2010 saw another drug – rosiglitazone, better known by the trade name Avandia – hitting the headlines because of unwanted […]

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Although drug-testing regulations have been tightened up considerably, even with the very best drug-testing practices there can be no absolute […]

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