Imogen Evans, Hazel Thornton, Iain Chalmers, and Paul Glasziou have written a great book about why we need to do clinical trials, with introductory chapters about how they should be done. The second edition of their book is available free as a pdf. It has actually been available for a while, but I only just became aware of a web-site that has all the same information, the website has the text of the book, and a number of open educational resources, Including for example a you-tube video featuring a poem about regression to the mean. If you’ve been visiting this blog for a while you will know I have written about this myself.
There is also a link to a satirical video from the Onion, that I really enjoyed. And the website of testing treatments has a link to download the whole book for free.
And of note, Iain Chalmers has also just published an editorial in the BMJ. “All trials must be registered and the results published” It is a scandal that we still have trials performed that do not get fully published, and people or companies hanging on to the data that should be considered to belong to the whole community and the trial participants, not to the investigators. As many as half of all the trials performed never get published. This means that many treatments that are being prescribed currently have already been shown to be ineffective, and many others are not used as they should be. Please sign the petition. http://www.alltrials.net/
One example that Iain Chalmers mentions, that brings this home, was a high quality trial looking at whether you should do an adenoidectomy in addition to tympanostomy drainage for persistent otitis media with effusion. The study was not published for 10 years after being completed. So for 10 years all the ENT surgeons and parents in the world have been making decisions about what to do for these children without evidence that should have been easily available.