Researchers all over the world announce new facts revealed through research and experiments to a large number of people through magazines and internet media. Hassan Valley, an associate professor of public health at La Trobe University, draws attention by pointing out five things to keep in mind when reading articles about medical science.
According to this, the first question is whether the study has been reviewed. The review is to evaluate the scientific validity of the research by confirming the papers by experts in this field. There is a difference in whether or not the thesis is reviewed in each journal in which the thesis is published. Papers published in peer-reviewed journals are checked by 2-3 reviewers. In this case, if serious defects are recognized in the research method and content, the publication of the thesis may be prohibited or the researcher may solve the problem.
Of course, some point out that thesis review is not necessarily all-round. However, thesis review can be one of the indicators of credibility of research results. If the research presented in the article has not been reviewed, it may be a good idea to read through it a little.
Second, whether the study was conducted on humans. In the early stages of medical experiments, it is possible to use experimental animals such as mice and cells cultured in a laboratory, rather than suddenly experimenting with humans. This type is an early stage of scientific discovery. Since it has been proven in rats, it cannot be assumed that it has the same effect in humans.
Third, whether the survey results indicate a causal relationship. What is important in everyday life-related research is whether there is a simple correlation or a causal relationship. For example, a study that found that coffee drinkers were more prone to heart disease should pay attention to whether coffee drinking caused heart disease, or that those who simply drank coffee were more likely to develop heart disease.
A study of the relationship between coffee and heart disease indicated that coffee drinkers were more likely to have a smoking habit, and consequently there was a correlation between coffee and heart disease. As such, there is a possibility that factors other than those noted in the study may cause specific results that overlap by chance, so it is important to pay attention to whether the study shows a causal relationship or just a correlation.
Fourth, what is the magnitude of the effect? Medical articles tend to only draw attention to the consequences of certain actions, but it is also necessary to understand how effective they are. For example, if it is recorded that the risk of disease B increases by 50% if the action A is performed, then A tends to think that it is terrifying. But for B, if the original risk of the disease is very small, a 50% increase in risk may not be too much of a problem. If the initial risk of disease B is 0.1%, a 50% increase in risk is only 0.15%. It is worth noting that the rise is not that dramatic.
The last question is whether the findings of the study were supported by other studies. Science is important for the accumulation and support of many scientists, and no matter how groundbreaking research results are, they cannot be conclusively evaluated alone.
When the findings are supported by experiments conducted by other researchers in a different environment and in a different way by performing reproducible experiments, confidence in the results of the initial study is created. It can be important to interpret and wait for confirmation by many studies, rather than to draw conclusions from just one study. Related information can be found here.