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May 2, 1977

Journals, Clinicians, and Medical Trends

JAMA. 1977;237(18):1966. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03270450056026

Medical journals have recently been criticized for publishing misleading and impractical data. One clinician decries the publication of studies that are refuted by later reports.1 He labels these practices "controversial" and concludes that a medical journal should publish only material that has been "completely researched, documented and approved." Another clinician insists that periodicals that publish clinical investigations are not appropriate for "working doctors," and he asserts that a clinician's journal should consist exclusively of articles containing practical information that has been "tested and approved."2

Implicit in the frustration of these physicians is the belief that clinical trials must provide clearly defined conclusions that offer irrefutable clinical guidelines. Unfortunately, the foolproof clinical trial does not exist. Formulation of medical concepts is an ongoing process, and publication of even the most carefully structured clinical experiment is but one step in the historic development of new principles. We must leave to