More studies do NOT need to be done.

More studies do NOT need to be done.

If you have been looking at the Points of Interest, you might have noted a pattern in one kind of entry: the meta-analysis/systematic reviews of various pseudo-medicines.

They virtually always have the same conclusion: there is some information to suggest efficacy, but all studies are fatally flawed by bias or other errors, so further large scale studies with better methodologies need be done.

It would appear that no meta-analysis that demonstrates that improbable therapies only show efficacy in poorly done trials is convincing in a manner that would lead to the conclusion that the particular pseudo-medicine should be abandoned. 


I get the impression that these researchers will not be satisfied until they can find a study that shows efficacy. Then, and only then, will they be happy.

Even when preliminary, but reasonably well done trials, are negative it is an indication that they need to keep at it until they get results they want.

In Effects of Green Tea Gargling on the Prevention of Influenza Infection in High School Students: A Randomized Controlled Study they compared gargling with green tea or water for the prevention of influenza in Japanese high school students. There was no difference in influenza rates, about 6%, suggesting there need to focus more on vaccination.   Only 35% of the participants were vaccinated.

But there were flaws.  The students only gargled 3 times a day and the students had too many opportunities to be exposed to influenza outside of school and they were already drinking green tea and maybe we should combine gargling with better hand hygiene and face masks.

By golly we have have had positive results before, so we need to confirm our earlier studies.  Instead

this study reveals that, in order to adequately assess the effects of green tea gargling on the prevention of influenza infection, additional large-scale randomized studies with sufficiently high adherence rates and maximally effective gargling methods are needed.

And here I would have concluded that green tea gargling didn’t work and it was time to move on to a more fruitful research project. But then, no CAM has ever been abandoned because of disconfirming studies.  Only more studies need to be done.

Points of Interest 02/19/2015
Points of Interest 02/18/2015

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