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Br J Gen Pract. 2012 Mar;62(596):e151-9. doi: 10.3399/bjgp12X630034.

Clinicians' perceptions of reporting methods for back pain trials: a qualitative study.

Author information

1
Centre for Primary Care and Public Health, Queen Mary University of London, UK. r.j.froud@qmul.ac.uk

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

How outcomes of clinical trials are reported alters the way treatment effectiveness is perceived: clinicians interpret the outcomes of trials more favourably when results are presented in relative (such as risk ratio) rather than absolute terms (such as risk reduction). However, it is unclear which methods clinicians find easiest to interpret and use in decision making.

AIM:

To explore which methods for reporting back pain trials clinicians find clearest and most interpretable and useful to decision making.

DESIGN AND SETTING:

Indepth interviews with clinicians at clinical practices/research centre.

METHOD:

Clinicians were purposively sampled by professional discipline, sex, age, and practice setting. They were presented with several different summaries of the results of the same hypothetical trial. Each summary used a different reporting method, and the study explored participants' preferences for each method and how they would like to see future trials reported.

RESULTS:

The 14 clinicians interviewed (comprising GPs, manual therapists, psychologists, a rheumatologist, and surgeons) stated that clinical trial reports were not written with them in mind. They were familiar with mean differences, proportion improved, and numbers needed to treat (NNT), but unfamiliar with standardised mean differences, odds ratios, and relative risks (RRs). They found the proportion improved, RR, and NNT most intuitively understandable, and thought reporting between-group mean differences, RRs, and odds ratios could mislead.

CONCLUSION:

Clinicians stated that additional reporting methods facilitate the interpretation of trial results, and using a variety of methods would make results easier to interpret in context and incorporate into practice. Authors of future back pain trials should report data in a format that is accessible to clinicians.

Comment in

PMID:
22429424
PMCID:
PMC3289820
DOI:
10.3399/bjgp12X630034
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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