Scientists declare nearly 400 medical practices 'ineffective'

By Tauren Dyson

June 11 (UPI) -- Researchers have pinpointed almost 400 common medical practices that are actually ineffective, a new study shows.

They hope this research, published Tuesday in eLife, will push for the de-adoption of these ineffective standards commonly known as medical reversals.


"We wanted to build on these and other efforts to provide a larger and more comprehensive list for clinicians and researchers to guide practice as they care for patients more effectively and economically," Diana Herrera-Perez, a researcher at Oregon Health & Science University and study lead author, said in a news release.

The researchers searched for randomized controlled trials published in the last 15 years in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine.

After reviewing 3,000 articles, their work uncovered 296 medical reversals. About 92 percent of studies were conducted on subjects in high-income countries. Conversely, only 8 percent took place in low or middle-income countries.

Practices concentrating on cardiovascular disease were reversed 20 percent of the time, representing the highest rate of any medical category. Public health/preventive medicine and critical care came next.

"We hope our broad results may serve as a starting point for researchers, policymakers and payers who wish to have a list of practices that likely offer no net benefit to use in future work," Herrera-Perez said.


Scientists conduct medical reversals to determine that current practices don't work better than previous standards of care. The Cochrane Reviews, for example, is a British journal that only covers one practice per review, leaving many other existing practices unreviewed by the journal.

"Taken together, we hope our findings will help push medical professionals to evaluate their own practices critically and demand high-quality research before adopting a new practice in future, especially for those that are more expensive and/or aggressive than the current standard of care," said study co-lead author Alyson Haslam, a researcher at the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute.

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