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Eur J Clin Invest. 2017 Nov;47(11):795-802. doi: 10.1111/eci.12834. Epub 2017 Sep 28.

How to survive the medical misinformation mess.

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Departments of Medicine, Health Research and Policy, and Biomedical Data Science, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA.
Meta-Research Innovation Center at Stanford (METRICS), Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA.
Department of Statistics, Stanford University School of Humanities and Sciences, Stanford, CA, USA.
Department of Family Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA, USA.
Delfini Group LLC, Seattle, WA, USA.
Lown Institute, Brookline, MA, USA.
Department of Health Policy, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Cambridge, MA, USA.


Most physicians and other healthcare professionals are unaware of the pervasiveness of poor quality clinical evidence that contributes considerably to overuse, underuse, avoidable adverse events, missed opportunities for right care and wasted healthcare resources. The Medical Misinformation Mess comprises four key problems. First, much published medical research is not reliable or is of uncertain reliability, offers no benefit to patients, or is not useful to decision makers. Second, most healthcare professionals are not aware of this problem. Third, they also lack the skills necessary to evaluate the reliability and usefulness of medical evidence. Finally, patients and families frequently lack relevant, accurate medical evidence and skilled guidance at the time of medical decision-making. Increasing the reliability of available, published evidence may not be an imminently reachable goal. Therefore, efforts should focus on making healthcare professionals, more sensitive to the limitations of the evidence, training them to do critical appraisal, and enhancing their communication skills so that they can effectively summarize and discuss medical evidence with patients to improve decision-making. Similar efforts may need to target also patients, journalists, policy makers, the lay public and other healthcare stakeholders.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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