Evaluating Alternative Therapies
Posted: 16 May 2012 07:41 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I know a few of you are interested in an evidence-based approach to alternative medicine, so I thought you might find useful a presentation I recently gave on the subject. The link below leads to a set of Powerpoint presentations I created as well as a narrated video version of the entire (loooong!) talk posted on Youtube. The examples mostly come from veterinary medicine, since that’s my field, but the principles apply to alt med generally. Enjoy!

Evidence-Based Evaluation of Alternative Medicine

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Posted: 16 May 2012 07:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Hey, cool, thanks Brennen. I don’t have time just now but would like to come back later and give it a look!

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Posted: 16 May 2012 07:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Wow. It looks like you put a lot of time into it. I’ll take a look at the video when i have a little time to do it justice.

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For every complex problem there is a solution that is simple, obvious,.... and just plain wrong

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Posted: 16 May 2012 08:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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My next patient is late so rather than do something work related I started looking at the first power point. Obviously this is meant as a presentation to your colleagues but it got me thinking. An abbreviated version of this presentation that addresses some of the same points ( ie. critical thinking and how to evaluate information on health issues) might be a useful tool for patients/ pet owners.  I spend a lot of time addressing specific therapies that patients inquire about but as the old adage goes…if you give a man a fish etc. Maybe We’re going about this all wrong. Rather than personally researching and discussing each of these therapies with patients it might be more useful to give them the tools to more effectively do this on their own. It won’t work for everyone obviously. There needs to be a certain level of intelligence, education, and motivation, but for a segment of the population this might be the answer.

Now you’ve got me thinking. Another project to put on the to-do list tongue laugh

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Posted: 16 May 2012 08:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Yes, my idea was that before I could sell EBM and a critical appraisal to vets, I had to introduce some healthy self-doubt, to explain why the intuitive ways of evaluating our interventions don’t work very well. That led off into some philodophy, cognitive psychology, and other stuff that didn’t seem immediately relevant to the audience, but over the course of the day (I had about 4 hours of lecture alltogether), I think I was able to build a case for why science works better than what we already do.

To some extent, I think the same message can be pitched to patients/pet owners. Thomas Kida’s book Don’t Believe Everything You Think does a nice job of this, and so do a number of Michael Shermer’s books and others. I did actually pitch a book for pet owners to a couple of publishers, and it began with a review of why we need science since our own natural methods for evaluating complex phenomena are deeply flawed (it then went through a number of specific alt med approaches to examine them critically). There was a bit of interest but also the sense that a book like that specifically for the pet owning market wasn’t likely to sell very well, and I’ve since gotten too busy to rearrange it to be more marketable.

Anyway, I think we can never have enough resources or push this message hard enough. You are welcome to use any of the slides, quotes or other pieces from this presentation however you like if they are helpful in making something like that for you patients.

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