Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[News release] Publication bias and ‘spin’ raise questions about drugs for anxiety disorders

From the 30 March 2015 Oregon State University news release

A new analysis reported in JAMA Psychiatry raises serious questions about the increasingly common use of second-generation antidepressant drugs to treat anxiety disorders.

It concludes that studies supporting the value of these medications for that purpose have been distorted by publication bias, outcome reporting bias and “spin.” Even though they may still play a role in treating these disorders, the effectiveness of the drugs has been overestimated.

In some cases the medications, which are among the most widely prescribed drugs in the world, are not significantly more useful than a placebo.

The findings were made by researchers from Oregon State University, Oregon Health & Science University, and the University of Groningen in The Netherlands. The work was supported by a grant from the Dutch Brain Foundation.

Publication bias was one of the most serious problems, the researchers concluded, as it related to double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials that had been reviewed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. If the FDA determined the study was positive, it was five times more likely to be published than if it was not determined to be positive.

Bias in “outcome reporting” was also observed, in which the positive outcomes from drug use were emphasized over those found to be negative. And simple spin was also reported. Some investigators concluded that treatments were beneficial, when their own published results for primary outcomes were actually insignificant.

“These findings mirror what we found previously with the same drugs when used to treat major depression, and with antipsychotics,” said Erick Turner, M.D., associate professor of psychiatry in the OHSU School of Medicine, and the study’s senior author. “When their studies don’t turn out well, you usually won’t know it from the peer-reviewed literature.”

This points to a flaw in the way doctors learn about the drugs they prescribe, the researchers said.

“The peer review process of publication allows, perhaps even encourages, this kind of thing to happen,” Turner said. “And this isn’t restricted to psychiatry – reporting bias has been found throughout the medical and scientific literature.”

March 31, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[News release] ‘Google Maps’ for the body: a biomedical revolution

From the 30 March 2015 USNW news release

UNSW biomedical engineer Melissa Knothe Tate is using previously top-secret semiconductor technology to zoom through organs of the human body, down to the level of a single cell.

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UNSW Paul Trainor Chair of Biomedical Engineering, Professor Melissa Knothe Tate. Photo: Grant Turner/Mediakoo

A world-first UNSW collaboration that uses previously top-secret technology to zoom through the human body down to the level of a single cell could be a game-changer for medicine, an international research conference in the United States has been told.

The imaging technology, developed by high-tech German optical and industrial measurement manufacturer Zeiss, was originally developed to scan silicon wafers for defects.

March 31, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] How poverty shapes the brain

From the 30 March 2015 ScienceBlog post

Family income is associated with children’s brain structure, reports a new study in Nature Neuroscience coauthored by Teachers College faculty member Kimberly Noble. The association appears to be strongest among children from lower-income families.

“We can’t say if the brain and cognitive differences we observed are causally linked to income disparities,” said Noble, who currently is both a TC Visiting Professor and Director of the Neurocognition, Early Experience and Development Lab of Columbia University Medical Center, but will join TC’s faculty as Associate professor of Neuroscience and Education in July in the Department of Biobehavioral Sciences. “But if so, policies that target poorest families would have the largest impact on brain development.”

The results do not imply that a child’s future cognitive or brain development is predetermined by socioeconomic circumstances, the researchers said.
Read more at http://scienceblog.com/77532/how-poverty-shapes-the-brain/#FpSAIVrhPFfM4hGJ.99

March 31, 2015 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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