Entries in Studies (10)


Bias Can Exaggerate Drugs’ Effectiveness

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(PORTLAND, Ore.) -- Doctors -- and patients -- might not be getting all the information they need about the safety and effectiveness of certain drugs because of “publication bias,” the tendency of researchers and medical journals to favor positive results over negative ones.

Researchers running drug trials are required to submit detailed results to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. But when it comes to reporting trial results publicly in medical journals, “it’s an entirely different ballgame,” according to Dr. Erick Turner, lead author of a study published Tuesday in PLoS Medicine.

“Doctors are trained to regard medical journals as the gospel truth,” said Turner, assistant professor of psychiatry and pharmacology at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland. “But what we’re learning here is it’s not necessarily the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”

Turner and colleagues reviewed the results submitted to the FDA for eight antipsychotic drugs used to treat schizophrenia. They then compared the results to those published in medical journals. Four trials submitted to the FDA, all of which had unflattering results for the drug under study, were unpublished.

“It’s kind of like grade inflation,” said Turner. “Say you’ve got a class full of kids. Some are excellent students and some should be failing. If you give everyone an A, an outside person is not going to be able to appreciate there’s a difference between these two sets of kids.”

Even when the studies were published, the journal articles often overemphasized the drugs’ effectiveness.

“Some of what we found could constitute spin, some would fall into the category of shenanigans,” said Turner. “The take-home message is there are loopholes in the publication process by which doctors may be relying on information that’s incomplete or somehow skewed. The drug’s effects may be exaggerated or its safety concerns may be downplayed.”

Turner said researchers working for a drug company might be inclined to withhold data that’s seen as damaging, adding “there’s no law says they have to publish.” But certain medical journals are also less likely to accept negative trials for publication. Bias, Turner said, could be mitigated by leaving the results out of the decision to publish.

“The person reviewing the study for the journal should be thinking, ‘Is this good science?’ rather than basing a decision on the results,” he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


New Study Links MP3 Players, Commuting with Hearing Damage

Marili Forastieri/Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A new study suggests that exposure to MP3 players may cause hearing loss, according to HealthDay.

Researchers looked at thousands of New York City residents and estimated how much noise the residents were experiencing throughout their day. The findings, which were published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, found that people damaged their hearing by listening to MP3 players, commuting on public transportation, and going to loud concerts.

One thing researchers are worried about is that MP3 players can run for days, while their precedents were battery operated.

The stydy did not directly measure exactly what New York commuters were listening to.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Study Finds People Lie More Often in E-Mails, Text Messages

Siri Stafford/Lifesize/Thinkstock(AMHERST, Mass.) -- A new study found that people are more likely to lie via e-mail and text messages than in person, according to HealthDay.

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst studied 220 undergraduate students , and found that the participants lied at least once or twice in 15 minutes via text messages.

The study has been published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Study Looks at Fairness and Altruism in Infants

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(SEATTLE) -- Teaching the concepts of sharing and fairness is the goal of every kindergarten lesson plan, but babies as young as 15 months may have already picked up these complex social skills, according to new research from the University of Washington.

"Our research shows that children become sensitized to the idea of fairness much earlier in life than previously thought. This concept of fairness also seems to influence an infant's tendency to act altruistically when given the option to share with a stranger," says Jessica Sommerville, a University of Washington associate professor of psychology who led the study.

In the study, experimenters capitalized on the fact that babies are known to stare longer at things that surprise them or challenge their expectations. The researchers had infants observe different scenarios in which an experimenter divided up crackers or a pitcher of milk among two people. The babies tended to look longer at the scenario when the treats were divided unequally (and hence "unfairly"), suggesting they were surprised by this outcome -- they expected that food should be divvied up equally.

Next, researchers gave the same infants two toys to play with and noted which one each baby preferred. Then they had an experimenter, who was a stranger to the infant, go up to them and ask for one of the toys. Babies who had stared longer at the "unfair" treat distribution were more likely to be "altruistic sharers," meaning that they readily gave their preferred toy to the stranger when asked. Infants who gave their less preferred toy were deemed "selfish sharers." These infants were significantly less likely to have stared longer at the unfair treat distribution.

"This research shows scientifically, what we would intuitively think -- that a stronger sensitivity to fairness is linked with the ability to act altruistically," says Sommerville.

The study was published Friday in the journal PLoS ONE.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Study Finds Smartphones May Damage Eyesight

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- New research shows that smartphones may be damaging people's eyesight.

The study found that smartphone-owners tend to read text messages or websites at a closer distance than they would with a newspaper. The trend could worsen the eyesight of people with glasses or contact lenses.

Over a hundred volunteers participated in the experiment, which asked patients to read from their smartphones. Scientists then measured the distance between their eyes and the screen.

Doctors advise smartphone owners to increase the font size on their devices, if they are worried about detrimental effects.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Study: Children Playing with Gaming Devices Experience Finger, Wrist Pain

ABC News(ST. LOUIS, Mo.) -- A new study shows that youngsters who spend a lot of time with handheld gaming devices tend to have wrist and finger pain.

The study was conducted on 257 students at two schools in St. Louis. The nine-to-15-year-olds who played with their Xbox or Gameboy tended to have more wrist and finger pain than their mobile phone-using counterparts.

The research was conducted to determine when children should be allowed to start using gaming devices and smartphones.

"Our study has shown the negative impact that playing computer games and using mobile phones can have on the joints of young children, raising concerns about the health impact of modern technology later in life," Yusuf Yazici, a professor of rheumatology at New York University Hospital, says in a news release. "We hope that further research in this area will shed light on what could be a serious health concern for today’s gaming children in later life."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Food Dyes May Cause Hyperactivity in Sensitive Children

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Youngsters with ADHD may have a "unique intolerance" to artificial food colorings, according to a government report released this week suggesting there may be some truth in the common wisdom that synthetic food dyes make children more hyper.

The man-made dyes haven't been proven to cause hyperactivity in most children, nor has research found the dyes to contain "any inherent neurotoxic properties," according to a U.S. Food and Drug

Administration staff memo filed after the Center for Science in the Public Interest petitioned the agency to revoke approvals for eight certified colorings. CSPI, a Washington, D.C.,-based consumer gadfly, filed that request on June 3, 2008, and asked the FDA to issue a consumer warning in the interim.

The eight dyes, which give appealingly bright color to beverages, cakes and pies, cereals, candies and snack foods, are FD&C Blue 1 and 2; FD&C Green 3, Orange B, FD&C Red 3, FD&C Red 40, FD&C Yellow 5 and 6.

The FDA distributed the research summary in advance of a two-day hearing in which its Food Advisory Committee, meeting in Silver Spring, Md., will consider any links between food coloring and hyperactivity in children. The committee will advise the FDA if there is a need to take action to protect consumer safety.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


New Study Sheds Light on Elder Abuse Trends

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- A new study suggests victims of elder abuse are usually women, people with neurological disorders, or drug addicts, HealthDay reports.

Researchers looked at figures from two Chicago trauma units, and found that almost 30 percent of abused seniors had alcohol in their system. The study compared abuse victims with a control group of patients older than 60.

The study also urged medical staff at hospitals to be more vigilant about elder abuse cases, since most instances are only discovered after the victim has been hospitalized.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obesity Leads to Changes In How the Heart Works, Study Finds

Polka Dot/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A new study finds a possible link between obesity and heart failure.

While it's common knowledge that obesity is extremely unhealthy for the heart, the report indicates that obesity may actually alter the heart's mechanics. The study from Columbia University examined a spectrum of 950 normal weight, overweight, and obese patients.

Researchers discovered that the hearts in overweight and obese patients had deficient left chambers. This may be a contributing factor in cases of heart failure.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Which Is Better in a Hospital: Teamwork or Protocol?

Ryan McVay/Photodisc(NEW HAVEN, Conn.) -- A new study from the Yale School of Medicine seeks to determine what distinguishes hospitals that have lower heart attack patient deaths.

The study involved 160 hospital staff members at 11 hospitals, comprising the extremes of patient death rates.

The researchers determined that the better hospitals were more organized and had greater solidarity. They also found that communication was a significant factor in their success, with senior management more noticeably involved in the treatment process and having a more acute sense of mission and goals.

Previous studies sought a "checklist" system for success, although these more recent findings imply that teamwork, rather than process, is a better recipe for success.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio