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Re: What criteria should we use for interpreting epidemiology?

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  • Re: What criteria should we use for interpreting epidemiology?

    May be relevant:

    Jim Giles interviews John Ioannidis for "New Scientist"

    16th Feb 2008, pp.44-45 (Vol. 197)

    "When the clinical epidemiologist John Ioannidis published a paper
    entitled "Why most published research findings are false" in 2005, he
    made a lot of scientists very uncomfortable. The study was the result of
    15 years' work cataloguing the factors that plague the interpretation of
    scientific results, such as the misuse of statistics or poor
    experimental design"

    Title: Why most published research findings are false
    Author(s): Ioannidis, JPA
    Source: PLOS MEDICINE Volume: 2 Issue: 8 Pages: 696-701
    Published: AUG 2005

    "Some colleagues and I have looked at high-profile papers, with over
    1000 citations each, that were later completely contradicted by large,
    well-conducted studies. One example is the finding that beta-carotene
    protects against cancer. It doesn't, but we found a sizeable component
    of literature where these original beliefs were still supported. It's
    hard to believe the researchers had never heard they had been refuted.

    Jim Giles: "How should we promote the studies that produce more credible
    results, rather than those that are simply statistically significant?"

    "There are several ways to do this. One: do larger, well-designed
    studies. Two: instead of having 10 teams of researchers, each working
    behind closed doors, investigators should collaborate and study the same
    questions. All the data should be made publicly available. If one team
    comes up with an interesting result then the whole consortium should try
    to replicate it. Much of the work I've been doing for the past 10 years
    has been about creating consortia to carry out research. The experience
    has been very positive.

    >From issue 2643 of "New Scientist" magazine, 16 February 2008, page

    Title: Why most published research findings are false: Author's reply to
    Goodman and Greenland
    Author(s): Ioannidis, JPA
    Source: PLOS MEDICINE Volume: 4 Pages: 1132-1133 Published: 2007

    Title: Limitations are not properly acknowledged in the scientific
    Author(s): Ioannidis, JPA
    Source: JOURNAL OF CLINICAL EPIDEMIOLOGY Volume: 60 Issue: 4
    Pages: 324-329 Published: APR 2007

    Title: Why most published research findings are false: Problems in the
    Author(s): Goodman, S; Greenland, S
    Source: PLOS MEDICINE Volume: 4 Issue: 4 Pages: 773-773
    Published: APR 2007

    Title: Most published research findings are false- but a little
    replication goes a long way
    Author(s): Moonesinghe, R; Khoury, MJ; Janssens, ACJW
    Source: PLOS MEDICINE Volume: 4 Issue: 2 Pages: 218-221
    Published: FEB 2007

    Author(s): LARSSON, KS
    Source: JOURNAL OF INTERNAL MEDICINE Volume: 238 Issue: 5 Pages:
    445-450 Published: NOV 1995


    Adrian Smith
    Leeds University Library
    +44 (0)113 3435531

    -----Original Message-----
    From: * Biomechanics and Movement Science listserver
    [mailto:BIOMCH-L@NIC.SURFNET.NL] On Behalf Of McFarlane, David
    Sent: 19 February 2008 22:36
    Subject: [BIOMCH-L] What criteria should we use for interpreting

    Dear all,

    Lately in my professional reading I have noticed that the standards of
    evidence varies greatly between different fields. For instance, the
    mode of establishing causality used in science (which was devised by
    Jakob Henle and Robert Koch for research in bacteriology) requires that
    in every single instance the effect follows the cause. By contrast
    epidemiology uses a system of causal inference that is based on the
    philosophies of David Hume and John Stuart Mill (Morabia, 2005). The
    question of identifying causes in epidemiology has always been a subject
    of controversy. For instance, the controversy over the interpretation of
    the statistical relationship between smoking and lung cancer caused a
    landmark debate in that field in the second half of the twentieth
    century. It led Bradford Hill to formulate the "pragmatics" of risk
    factor epidemiology in 1965 (Berlivet, 2005). His model for establishing
    causation ("The Hill causation model") is well known in the public
    health field and widely used. For example Hill's nine proposed
    "criteria" for determining causation were used was used to classify
    Chrysotile asbestos as a cause of mesothelioma (Lemen, 2004); it met all
    nine of them. However, "multiple causation" is the canon of contemporary
    epidemiology and its "web of causation" is widely accepted though it is
    a very poorly elaborated model (Krieger, 1994). Sadly public heath
    debates these days are often based on evidence that use it in
    questionable ways and this topic clearly deserves further debate. Has
    anyone found a good review of criteria currently in use for interpreting


    David McFarlane MAppSc (Ergonomics)
    Ergonomist, WorkCover NSW


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