This podcast discusses the proper way to sort through the enormous amount of information available to consumers. It’s important to know how to determine whether or not a study is reliable. In the world of medicine, research yields reports that are then publicized. Quite often, consumers can’t tell what should and shouldn’t be taken seriously.
The steps to investigating research information begin with making sure you’re looking at it retrospectively; understanding that you are often looking at data that has already been created. Many published studies are using information that has been collected for an entirely different study and applying it to meet their own hypothesis.
A common term in research is “data mining”. This is when a source working to create a study, searches data that has already been created. A database that is commonly used is the census bureau. Scientists create a thesis based on information that they collect. This doesn’t make a study less reliable. It does however mean you need to be careful and read closely. Usually when health studies are published, the results apply to a very small window of people. There are many factors that cancel out individuals and change the results.
An article in the Journal of the American Medical Association published a study about men getting mild cognitive impairment during middle age. The article stated that men are more likely to get it than women. I however don’t agree with this as I have research that says 62% of midlife women have this condition. In investigating this study further I saw that the women they studied were 70 years old and had no cognitive impairment. The problem is that by 70, women have already had MCI 30-40 years prior, so of course in testing, almost all of their subjects are going to present as not having MCI. The study is working with the wrong age group of women.
Situations like this are why it’s important to have a skeptic mind when taking studies at face value. It’s important to ask questions and find all the facts before you assume that what you’re reading not only applies to you and your health but is even accurate information for anyone.