Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Healing Touch and Accupuncture

I would like to do a short review of two subjects. The first one was reported onby Science Based Medicine and is an excellent review of "Healing Touch and Coronary Bypass". I would refer to the Science Based Medicine Link on this blog. It is about an article published by Harriet Hall under the Clinical Trials, Energy Medicine. It was cited as being evidence of efficacy of healing touch or the other term Rikki. But as a summery there are problems with the study which call into question its "science ?" Four out of six outcomes of the study were negative, and two were said to be positive, but these are dubiuos at best. The problem was there was no credible control group, the authors were clearly practitioners and biased and made no attempt to establish statistical significance, variability, and clear cut end points. The results were more in line with placebo effect. The paper was full of rambling incoherent statements such as "At the very heart of this study is the movement toward recognizing that the metaphoric and physical heart are both very real, if we allow them to be." In other words it reminds me of the cowardly lion in the Wizard of Oz in the huanted forest saying; "I do believe, I do... I do... I do..."
Another was brought out in Daily Poems, which is a daily I get about evidence based research. A study by Lee MS Shin BC and Ernst E. published in Int. J. Clinical Practice 2009; 63(6): 874-879 was a Cochrane review of controlled trials and found no evidence that accupuncture is effective in the treatment of Alzheimers dementia. It looked at relevant complementary medicine journals. There is a set of criteria called the Jadad scale criteria that determine if the studies were of any quality at all. Only 3 studies met those criteria. All studies received poor quality ratings. None reported methodology of randomization, adequate descriptions of patient or reviewer blinding, or details of drop out or withdrawals from the studies.
It is interesting to note that all the alternative medicine studies are of poor quality, in statisitical methods, outcome assesment, control and study group evaluation for inclusion and exclusion and make statements in the conclusions that can only be called fanciful. The good studies done by the NIH I have previous reported all show no benefit. The purvayors of this type hookum must have a reasonable hypothesis of how something will work based on what is already known. Then they must show in a good scientific based, ie statistical analysis, that the treatment works. They always fail on these points. As Phil Plait says if you just make stuff up, you are just making stuff up. And, I might add, calling it science doens't make it so.

Remember our 15 July meeting at the Public Library with the Faith Panel.
Skeptical DoDo

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