Researchers see bias in Taser studies

May 9, 2011 at 4:47 PM
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SAN FRANCISCO, May 9 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers say studies into the safety of Taser stun gun devices may be biased due to ties to the devices' manufacturer, Taser International Inc.

In an analysis intended to gauge the accuracy of 50 published studies on the potential dangers of using Taser products, University of California, San Francisco, researchers said the likelihood of a study concluding Taser devices are safe was 75 percent higher when the studies were either funded by the manufacturer or written by authors affiliated with the company, than when studies were conducted independently, a UCSF release said.

Of the 50 articles studied, 23 were funded by Taser International Inc. or written by an author affiliated with the company, and nearly all (96 percent) of the Taser-supported articles concluded the devices were either "unlikely harmful" (26 percent) or "not harmful" (70 percent).

In contrast, of the 27 studies not affiliated with Taser International, only 55 percent of the articles found that Tasers are either "unlikely harmful" (29 percent) or "not harmful" (26 percent).

Tasers are the most popular brand of electrical stun guns, used primarily by law enforcement agencies to incapacitate combative suspects, but critics and scientists have raised concerns about the potential dangers of using the devices, particularly on pregnant women, the elderly and the very young, and on individuals with underlying medical conditions.

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