Promising treatments

Format: Cartoons
Language/s: English
Short Description:

'Promising' treatments greatly outnumber actual advances in treatment.

Key Concepts addressed:



I first wrote about the tendency of “promising” treatments to metamorphose into “disappointing” treatments in a BMJ piece about evidence based mistakes. Early results, after all, can’t promise anything at all.

The graph depicts a cumulative meta-analysis: each new study is being absorbed into a summation of the evidence so far. With 4 studies, it’s shifted from the “this helps” side of the ledger over to the “this harms” side. See more about cumulative analyses in this classic article.

“Promising” is a media and marketing staple, too. Several wonderful initiatives keep the media to account on this, story by story: Behind the Headlines, Germany’s, Japan’s Media Doctor, and the US Health News Review.

Cartoons are available for use, with credit to Hilda Bastian.