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June 1988

Ophthalmic Epidemiology and Biostatistics

Arch Ophthalmol. 1988;106(6):737-738. doi:10.1001/archopht.1988.01060130807026

How can ophthalmologists discriminate those few clinical innovations having patient applicability from the numerous others whose safety and efficacy have not been properly validated? Not to perform this judgmental function on a regular basis may relegate one's patients to substandard care.

See p 835.

More specifically, how can one intelligently assess claims for clinical progress that are published in medical journals? Readers of published articles have traditionally relied on prior education, fund of knowledge, personal experience, and common sense. Much of today's new information, however, is appropriately presented in a more quantitative format than in the past, and, just as appropriately, requires quantitative assessment. Discerning readers must ask some important questions: Were the data collected and analyzed properly? Did the study have sufficient statistical power to answer the questions asked? Does statistical significance confer clinical significance? If a therapeutic recommendation is offered, what is the risk-benefit ratio? Can the results

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