Dr Rete Pegs looks apprehensively at the journals on his reading table: dermatology journals, some "throwaways," and several general medical journals. "Darn! I must get some reading done." He picks up a journal, leafs through it, then returns it to the stack. "Why are they full of so much technical material, clinical trials, surveys, and such? How much statistics should a clinician need to know? How much of this is useful to me? How do I know what to believe?"
For many physicians, this is a familiar scenario. There are not any concise, compelling answers to Dr Pegs' anguished questions; however, a few principles are worth examining that relate to them.
In this issue of the Archives, Bigby et al1 review the reporting of methodologic details in clinical trials published in four dermatology journals. These authors show that clinicians have good reason to be wary about the descriptions,
Brown GW. What Can We Believe?. Arch Dermatol. 1985;121(11):1391-1393. doi:10.1001/archderm.1985.01660110039010