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February 18, 1956


JAMA. 1956;160(7):586. doi:10.1001/jama.1956.02960420066019

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To the Editor.—  A convincing comparison of biased versus unbiased research was presented by Drs. Robert C. Batterman and Arthur J. Grossman in The Journal, Dec. 24, 1955, page 1619. Their studies were carefully conceived and executed, but their interpretation of results, in my opinion, is erroneous. The authors demonstrated that, when neither patient nor physician knew what was given, 56% of 55 patients complaining of pain secondary to osteoarthritis or related conditions reported relief with aspirin, while 60% of 57 such patients reported relief with placebo. This lack of differentiation did not agree with their preconceptions, so they changed their experimental approach. When the physician but not the patient knew which agent was given, 53% of 215 patients reported relief with aspirin, 46% of 41 reported relief with placebo, and only 35% of 43 reported relief with placebo when the physician (against his better judgment) tried to "sell" it

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