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bibliography*The PainScience Bibliography contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers and others sources, like a specialized blog. This page is about a single scientific paper in the bibliography, Travers 2018.

Better than what? Comparisons in low back pain clinical trials

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Tags: scientific medicine

PainSci summary of Travers 2018?This page is one of thousands in the PainScience.com bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided at the bottom of the page, as often as possible. ★★★☆☆?3-star ratings are for typical studies with no more (or less) than the usual common problems. Ratings are a highly subjective opinion, and subject to revision at any time. If you think this paper has been incorrectly rated, please let me know.

Many non-drug treatments are tricky to test scientifically, because it’s hard to compare them to a true fake treatment (like a comparing a drug to a sugar pill). Many scientists resort to comparing a treatment to some other treatment that we hope is “neutral” (probably doesn’t have much biological effect, like a sugar pill).

It’s a trap! Comparing a test treatment to an “active control” is likely to be misleading, because the active control pollutes the experiment with all kinds of unknown variables.

The point of this BJSM editorial is that these kinds of studies “need to be interpreted with caution.”

It doesn’t mean that they are all wrong, but it’s a significant and basic limitation that has to be taken seriously. And “these kinds of studies” constitute a large percentage of studies in musculoskeletal medicine …

~ Paul Ingraham

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This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog. A few highlights: