Monday, May 13, 2013

Three New from Biomed Central Journals

Hofman B, Myhr AI, Holm S. Scientific dishonesty—a nationwide survey of doctoral students in Norway. BMC Medical Ethics 2013, 14:3 doi:10.1186/1472-6939-14-3

Background: The knowledge of scientific dishonesty is scarce and heterogeneous. Therefore this study investigates the experiences with and the attitudes towards various forms of scientific dishonesty among PhD-students at the medical faculties of all Norwegian universities.

Method: Anonymous questionnaire distributed to all post graduate students attending introductory PhD-courses at all medical faculties in Norway in 2010/2011. Descriptive statistics.
Results: 189 of 262 questionnaires were returned (72.1%). 65% of the respondents had not, during the last year, heard or read about researchers who committed scientific dishonesty. One respondent had experienced pressure to fabricate and to falsify data, and one had experienced pressure to plagiarize data. On average 60% of the respondents were uncertain whether their department had a written policy concerning scientific conduct. About 11% of the respondents had experienced unethical pressure concerning the order of authors during the last 12 months. 10% did not find it inappropriate to report experimental data without having conducted the experiment and 38% did not find it inappropriate to try a variety of different methods of analysis to find a statistically significant result. 13% agreed that it is acceptable to selectively omit contradictory results to expedite publication and 10% found it acceptable to falsify or fabricate data to expedite publication, if they were confident of their findings. 79% agreed that they would be willing to report misconduct to a responsible official.

Conclusion: Although there is less scientific dishonesty reported in Norway than in other countries, dishonesty is not unknown to doctoral students. Some forms of scientific misconduct are considered to be acceptable by a significant minority. There was little awareness of relevant policies for scientific conduct, but a high level of willingness to report misconduct.

Burr SA, Brodier E, Wilkinson S. Delivery and use of individualised feedback in large class medical teaching. BMC Medical Education 2013, 13:63 doi:10.1186/1472-6920-13-63
Background: Formative feedback that encourages self-directed learning in large class medical teaching is difficult to deliver. This study describes a new method, blueprinted feedback, and explores learner's responses to assess its appropriate use within medical science teaching.

Methods: Mapping summative assessment items to their relevant learning objectives creates a blueprint which can be used on completion of the assessment to automatically create a list of objectives ranked by the attainment of the individual student. Two surveys targeted medical students in years 1, 2 and 3. The behaviour-based survey was released online several times, with 215 and 22 responses from year 2, and 187, 180 and 21 responses from year 3. The attitude-based survey was interviewer-administered and released once, with 22 responses from year 2 and 3, and 20 responses from year 1.
Results: 88-96% of learners viewed the blueprinted feedback report, whilst 39% used the learning objectives to guide further learning. Females were significantly more likely to revisit learning objectives than males (p = 0.012). The most common reason for not continuing learning was a 'hurdle mentality' of focusing learning elsewhere once a module had been assessed.

Conclusions: Blueprinted feedback contains the key characteristics required for effective feedback so that with further education and support concerning its use, it could become a highly useful tool for the individual and teacher.

Stuber K, Bruno P, Kristmanson K, Ali Z. Dietary supplement recommendations by Saskatchewan chiropractors: results of an online survey. Chiropractic & Manual Therapies 2013, 21:11 doi:10.1186/2045-709X-21-11

Background: Chiropractors receive training in nutrition during their education, previous surveys have found that chiropractors frequently provide recommendations to patients relating to nutrition and dietary supplement intake. However, it has not been ascertained which specific supplements chiropractors recommend or the types of health conditions for which supplement recommendations are made.
Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine which dietary supplements are most commonly recommended by chiropractors in the province of Saskatchewan,Canada and the health conditions for which supplement recommendations are made.

Design: An online survey of licensed chiropractors practicing in the province of Saskatchewan, Canada was distributed three times following online and in-person notifications of the survey.
Statistical analyses performed: Descriptive statistics were reported, predominantly in the form of means and proportions.

Results: A response rate of 45% was obtained. All of the respondents (100%) indicated providing nutritional advice or counselling to patients, while nearly all (99%) indicated providing dietary supplement recommendations to patients. Respondents estimated that they provide nutritional advice or counselling to 31% of their patients on average, and recommend dietary supplements to an average of 25% of their patients. The most commonly recommended supplements were glucosamine sulfate, multivitamins, vitamin C, vitamin D, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, and probiotics. The most common reasons to recommend dietary supplements were for “general health and wellness” (82% of respondents), “bone health” (74%), “rheumatologic, arthritic, degenerative, or inflammatory conditions’ (72%), and “acute and/or chronic musculoskeletal conditions” (65%).
Conclusion: The majority of respondents indicated providing nutritional counselling and recommendations for dietary supplements to their patients. Respondents generally recommend a small number of dietary supplements and provide these recommendations and counselling to fewer than half of their patients on average, while tending to focus on conditions most closely related to the scope of practice of chiropractors. The findings of this study may have been limited by selection bias owing to the low response rate and as those who respond to surveys are often more likely to respond positively.


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