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June 2002

Reviewing the Medical Literature: Statistics Alone Are Not Enough

Author Affiliations

Copyright 2002 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.2002

Arch Dermatol. 2002;138(6):829-830. doi:10.1001/archderm.138.6.829

THE STUDY titled "Oral Treatment for Toenail Onychomycosis" by Crawford et al1 in this issue of the ARCHIVES has the objective "to identify and synthesize the evidence for the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of oral treatments for fungal infections of the toenails." Their ambitious goal is to examine "all available data from evaluations of these therapies" and include "a statistical summary of their clinical and cost-effectiveness." This very thorough search included 11 databases, a hand search of 3 podiatry journals, searching the bibliographies of all review articles, and contacting all podiatry schools in the United Kingdom as well as pharmaceutical firms to identify unpublished or unlisted trials. Rigorous selection criteria were applied by 4 workers working independently in pairs. All reviewers independently summarized the trials using 12 quality criteria.