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Measures of effectiveness in medical research: reporting both absolute and relative measures

Hoefer, Carl and Krauss, Alexander ORCID: 0000-0002-1783-2765 (2021) Measures of effectiveness in medical research: reporting both absolute and relative measures. Studies in history and philosophy of science, 88. 280 - 283. ISSN 0039-3681

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Identification Number: 10.1016/j.shpsa.2021.06.012


Biomedical research, especially pharmaceutical research, has been criticised for engaging in practices that lead to over-estimations of the effectiveness of medical treatments. A central issue concerns the reporting of absolute and relative measures of medical effectiveness. In this paper we critically examine proposals made by Jacob Stegenga to (a) give priority to the reporting of absolute measures over relative measures, and (b) downgrade the measures of effectiveness (effect sizes) of the treatments tested in clinical trials (Stegenga, 2015a). After exposing significant flaws in a central case study used by Stegenga to bolster his first proposal (a), we go on to argue that neither of these proposals is defensible (a or b). We defend the practice, in line with the New England Journal of Medicine, of reporting both absolute and relative measures whenever feasible.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2021 The Authors
Divisions: CPNSS
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
R Medicine > RS Pharmacy and materia medica
Q Science > Q Science (General)
Date Deposited: 19 Aug 2021 10:03
Last Modified: 23 May 2024 22:12

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