Monday, April 20, 2009

A Few New Articles of Note

These are three new articles I came across while reading journals on the Biomed Central websaite.

1. Connick RM, Connick P, Klotsas AE, Tsagkaraki PA, Gkrania-Klotsas E. Procedural confidence in hospital based practitioners: implications for the training and practice of doctors at all grades. BMC Med Educ 2009, 9:2doi:10.1186/1472-6920-9-2. (

Background: Medical doctors routinely undertake a number of practical procedures and these should be performed competently. The UK Postgraduate Medical Education and Training Board (PMETB) curriculum lists the procedures trainees should be competent in. We aimed to describe medical practitioner's confidence in their procedural skills, and to define which practical procedures are important in current medical practice.
Methods: A cross sectional observational study was performed measuring procedural confidence in 181 hospital practitioners at all grades from 2 centres in East Anglia, England.
Results: Both trainees and consultants provide significant service provision. SpR level doctors perform the widest range and the highest median number of procedures per year. Most consultants perform few if any procedures, however some perform a narrow range at high volume. Cumulative confidence for the procedures tested peaks in the SpR grade. Five key procedures (central line insertion, lumbar puncture, pleural aspiration, ascitic aspiration, and intercostal drain insertion) are the most commonly performed, are seen as important generic skills, and correspond to the total number of procedures for which confidence can be maintained. Key determinants of confidence are gender, number of procedures performed in the previous year and total number of procedures performed.
Conclusion: The highest volume of service requirement is for six procedures. The procedural confidence is dependent upon gender, number of procedures performed in the previous year and total number of procedures performed. This has implications for those designing the training curriculum and with regards the move to shorten the duration of training.

2. Gotlib A, Rupert R. Chiropractic manipulation in pediatric health conditions- an updated review. Chiropr Osteop 2008, 16:11doi:10.1186/1746-1340-16-11. (

Objective: Our purpose was to review the biomedical literature from January 2004 to June 2007 inclusive to determine the extent of new evidence related to the therapeutic application of manipulation for pediatric health conditions. This updates a previous systematic review published in 2005. No critical appraisal of the evidence is undertaken.
Data Sources: We searched both the indexed and non-indexed biomedical manual therapy literature. This included PubMed, MANTIS, CINAHL, ICL, as well as reference tracking. Other resources included the Cochrane Library, CCOHTA, PEDro, WHO ICTRP, AMED, EMBASE and AHRQ databases, as well as research conferences and symposium proceedings.
Results: The search identified 1275 citations of which 57 discrete citations met the eligibility criteria determined by three reviewers who then determined by consensus, each citation's appropriate level on the strength of evidence scale. The new evidence from the relevant time period was 1 systematic review, 1 RCT, 2 observational studies, 36 descriptive case studies and 17 conference abstracts. When this additional evidence is combined with the previous systematic review undertaken up to 2003, there are now in total, 2 systematic reviews, 10 RCT's, 3 observational studies, 177 descriptive studies, and 31 conference abstracts defining this body of knowledge.
Summary: There has been no substantive shift in this body of knowledge during the past 3 1/2 years. The health claims made by chiropractors with respect to the application of manipulation as a health care intervention for pediatric health conditions continue to be supported by only low levels of scientific evidence. Chiropractors continue to treat a wide variety of pediatric health conditions. The evidence rests primarily with clinical experience, descriptive case studies and very few observational and experimental studies. The health interests of pediatric patients would be advanced if more rigorous scientific inquiry was undertaken to examine the value of manipulative therapy in the treatment of pediatric conditions.

3. Johnson MF, Hays RD, Hui KK. Evidence-based effect size estimation:An illustration using the case of acupuncture for cancer-related fatigue. BMC Compl Alternative Med 2009, 9:1doi:10.1186/1472-6882-9-1. (

Background: Estimating a realistic effect size is an important issue in the planning of clinical studies of complementary and alternative medicine therapies. When a minimally important difference is not available, researchers may estimate effect size using the published literature. This evidence-based effect size estimation may be used to produce a range of empirically-informed effect size and consequent sample size estimates. We provide an illustration of deriving plausible effect size ranges for a study of acupuncture in the relief of post-chemotherapy fatigue in breast cancer patients.
Methods: A PubMed search identified three uncontrolled studies reporting the effect of acupuncture in relieving fatigue. A separate search identified five randomized controlled trials (RCTs) with a wait-list control of breast cancer patients receiving standard care that reported data on fatigue. We use these published data to produce best, average, and worst-case effect size estimates and related sample size estimates for a trial of acupuncture in the relief of cancer-related fatigue relative to a wait-list control receiving standard care.
Results: Use of evidence-based effect size estimation to calculate sample size requirements for a study of acupuncture in relieving fatigue in breast cancer survivors relative to a wait-list control receiving standard care suggests that an adequately-powered phase III randomized controlled trial comprised of two arms would require at least 101 subjects (52 per arm) if a strong effect is assumed for acupuncture and 235 (118 per arm) if a moderate effect is assumed.
Conclusion: Evidence-based effect size estimation helps justify assumptions in light of empirical evidence and can lead to more realistic sample size calculations, an outcome that would be of great benefit for the field of complementary and alternative medicine.

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