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Spinning RCT Results

According to this PLOS Med article, the source of press spins can be traced to article abstracts:

“Spin” was identified in about half of press releases and media coverage. In multivariable analysis, the main factor associated with “spin” in press releases was the presence of “spin” in the article abstract conclusion. (Source)

Table 1 lists the types of spin the authors identified in their sample of RCT abstracts:

  • No acknowledgement of nonstatistically significant primary outcome
  • Claiming equivalence when results failed to demonstrate a statistically significant difference
  • Focus on positive secondary outcome
  • Focus on inappropriate subgroup
  • Focus on within-group (or over-all within) comparison
  • Nonstatistically significant outcome reported as if they were significant
  • Inadequate claim of safety
  • Inappropriate extrapolation

While the sample is small & the focus is narrow, I can see this being an effective talking point in critical appraisal discussions.

(via Evidence-Based Health)

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