Friday, October 28, 2016

GOOD ABSTRACT: Calcium Intake and Cardiovascular Disease Risk

Calcium intake of 2000 to 2500 mg/d, regardless of source (diet vs supplements) is not associated with CVD risk in generally healthy adults. Ann Intern Med. 2016 Oct 25;

Comment: This is an example of a fair to good abstract. The notable feature of this abstract is that it includes a section on Primary Funding Source, so readers can help determine possible funding bias. Better form would have been for the authors to capitalize each section heading.

This systemic review and meta-analysis included the following sections: 
  • Background
  • Purpose
  • Data Sources
  • Study Selection
  • Data Extraction
  • Data Synthesis
  • Limitations
  • Conclusion
  • Primary Funding Source

Friday, October 14, 2016

GOOD ABSTRACT: Vitamin D is inversely related to risk of pre-eclampsia and preterm birth

Vitamin D, pre-eclampsia, and preterm birth among pregnancies at high risk for pre-eclampsia: an analysis of data from a low-dose aspirin trial.

As maternal vitamin D status in the second trimester increased, the risk of early-onset pre-eclampsia and preterm birth decreased in women at high risk for pre-eclampsia. BJOG. 2016 Oct 5;:

Comment: This is an example of a GOOD ABSTRACT. The sections are clearly demarcated and the abstract is easily readable. This is the first research article containing a section called Tweetable Abstract. Nice!

Monday, October 10, 2016

A Tutorial on Hunting Statistical Significance by Chasing N

False positive findings (Type I errors) are greatly increased by repeated statistical testing and by manipulation of study groups post hoc. Front. Psychol., 22 September 2016

Friday, September 30, 2016

Citation bias favoring positive clinical trials

Positive trials of tPA for ischemic stroke are cited more often than neutral trials or negative trials. Trials. 2016;17(1):473

Comment: This study found that there is a significant amount of CITATION BIAS in the use of tPA in ischemic stroke. Perhaps this is because we always want to do something, like give a fancy drug or call a Code Stroke, rather than just stand by and give aspirin or clopidogrel. This citation bias may have disasterous results, so must be strongly guarded against.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

MORE BIAS: Covariation bias in women with a negative body evaluation

Covariation bias was temporarily diminished by use of a computer simulation program which disconnects the two variables. J Behav Ther Exp Psychiatry. 2016 Mar;50:33-9

Comment: Covariation bias is the over-estimation of a relationship between two variables. In this study, the researchers looked at women who over-estimated the relationship between their own body and negative social feedback. The bias was decreased when computer program contingencies were manipulated so that her own body was rarely followed by negative social feedback. This abstract brings up two important concepts: 
  • COVARIATION BIAS. Be aware that we may over-estimate relationships sometimes.
  • BAD ABSTRACT. This abstract is okay, but in the results section it gives a narrative analysis rather than a statistical analysis. In the results section, readers need to see the scientific, statistical analysis. We are not reading a work of literature, a poem, or a novel. This is about science, and one of the fundamental foundations of science is the statistical analysis of research data. This should be clearly presented in the results section of a scientific abstract. On the plus side, they did include a limitations section. This is optional, but a helpful addition to the standard abstract.
  • The RESULTS section of an abstract is where the statistical analysis of the data is presented.  This section is not for a narrative summary or opinion.

Bad Abstract: Adherence to recommended exercise guidelines in patients with heart failure.

The abstract for this review states that in their manuscript, they make recommendations for the direction of future research. Heart Fail Rev. 2016 Sep 26;

Comment: Should review articles also follow structured abstract guidelines? A strong argument can be made that yes, they should. This abstract of a review article tells us almost nothing. They give some background, then vaguely state what they present in their manuscript. Thus, the abstract in effect tells the reader to just read the manuscript. What good is that? Are abstracts simply commercials, urging readers to read the full manuscript? No. Abstracts should provide a summary of the contents of the manuscript. To make it easy for readers to get the gist of the manuscript, the full article, the abstract should ideally contain these sections: a) background, b) methods, c) results, d) conclusion, and optionally e) implications. These sections should be clearly identifiable. Typically, each section should start on a new line, with the section title in all caps or bold type.

Bad Abstract: Comparison of risk and protective factors associated with smartphone addiction and Internet addiction.

The authors of this study conclude: "Our findings will aid clinicians in distinguishing between predictive factors for smartphone and Internet addiction and can consequently be utilized in the prevention and treatment of smartphone addiction." J Behav Addict. 2015 Dec;4(4):308-14

Comment: This is an example of a poor abstract. The conclusion to an abstract should state what the scientific study found, not opinion regarding implications of the research. In this case, the researchers presented a conclusion that has nothing to do with the hard scientific data that they found and analyzed. Rather, their conclusion was a mish-mash of vague wishy washy ideas about what they imagine regarding the effects of their research. I challenge anyone to tell me what their research study actually found, from a scientific standpoint, based upon their conclusion. Deeper analysis of the abstract reveals that their results section was also flawed; what was presented here should have been in the conclusion. The authors did not present a statistical analysis of their data in the abstract (this should be presented in the results section).

How social media affects the health of children and young people.

Cyber bullying and Facebook Depression are associated with mental health problems in children and young people, but no cause and effect relationship has been proven. The authors recommend more research into this area.  J Paediatr Child Health. 2015 Dec;51(12):1152-7

Comment: The authors raise an important statistical fact: association does not equal causation. There is conflicting evidence regarding the benefits versus cons of social media. Benefits include greater social interactions along with less loneliness for the elderly and isolated. Cons include negative self-esteem and mood disorders, primarily in younger users. While these observations are interesting, the authors rightly point out that no cause and effect relationships have been scientifically proven. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

Mindfulness Practice to Reduce Bias

Practicing mindfulness meditation may be a way to reduce harmful unconscious biases, such as racial or ethnic biases, in health care providers. Patient Educ Couns. 2016 Sep 15;

Comment: We all have several potentially harmful unconscious cognitive processes. The authors of this article argue that mindfulness practice promotes a nonjudgmental approach. Note, however, that this is a theoretical article that does not scientifically prove in any way that mindfulness practice is effective at reducing bias. We cannot exclude the possibility that the opposite, undesired effect may occur. Scientific research has a way of often disproving the best sounding theories.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Attentional Bias for Emotional Stimuli in Borderline Personality Disorder: A Meta-Analysis.

Patients with borderline personality disorder tend to have an ATTENTION BIAS towards emotionally negative words. Psychopathology. 2016 Sep 20

Comment: Attention bias is another way to say excessive focus upon, or to have blinders. Not only patients can suffer from attention bias, scientific researchers also can suffer from this bias. When analyzing research papers, it is important to see the big picture as well as the fine details. You may discover that researchers are so close to their area of expertise that they excessively focus on some detail, resulting in attention bias.

Belief-confirming reasoning bias in social anxiety disorder.

BELIEF BIAS is when in spite of the facts, people will tend to consider believable conclusions as true and unbelievable conclusions as not true. J Behav Ther Exp Psychiatry. 2016 Dec;53:9-16

Comment: This study found a belief bias among those with social anxiety disorder. The beliefs tended to reinforce false ideas with the result of affirming their social anxieties.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Why Most Published Research Findings Are False

 This is an interesting article on bias, from a professor of medicine at Stanford(John P. A. Ioannidis)