February 2011

Of Horse Races, Trials, Meta-analyses, and Carotid Artery Stenosis

Author Affiliations

Copyright 2011 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.2011

Arch Neurol. 2011;68(2):157-159. doi:10.1001/archneurol.2010.268

I got the horse right here, the name is Paul Revere. Can do, can do, this guy says the horse can do.  . . . But look at Epitaph. He wins it by a half, according to this here in the Telegraph.—Guys and Dolls

In therapeutic trials, one treatment is pitted against one or more opponent treatments and/or a placebo and a winner is sought. In some ways, the competition in a trial resembles a horse race. The difference is that in a horse race the outcome is clear-cut; the horse that first crosses the finish line wins. There rarely are dead heats. In trials, different outcomes may be studied and analyzed. The horses' owners and those who have a stake in the horses are allowed to bet on their horse. A meta-analysis is something like a racing form paper that summarizes the past race records and includes prior races where the same horses have opposed each other. Of course, those races might have been run at different race tracks, at different seasons and times, with potentially different jockeys, and on different tracks (muddy, slow or fast).

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