I have to agree with all the sentiments about SMACC being the best conference in the world for a blend of science and practicality for critical care medicine. I also find that SMACC conference talks delve into topics that many others do not venture. Some of them as unsexy, but important, as those around principles of research, evidence and reporting. One such was this talk I was fortunate to give at SMACC Gold titled “Why most research is wrong”.
As someone who has found myself in the blended tribe of clinical researchers, I found this topic confronting. Many times over my career I have found myself influenced to change my practice, and only with the passage of time (with of course more research performed), have I and the medical community realised we have headed down the wrong track. Looking back, I clearly used to be an ‘early adopter’ of new treatments and innovation reported in the literature (see Simon Carley’s talk on ‘What to believe and when to change’).
As a new consultant, I wanted to be up with the latest and actively challenging dogma. But it made me question why I had been so strongly influenced by different findings through the years. With experience and a better understanding of how evidence is created, analysed and reported, I am no longer in the ‘early adopters’ camp, and am happy to await a body of strong evidence to be created before embarking on significant change with new developments, and wear the jeering of my more junior colleagues, keen to progress our craft.
A good understanding of the strengths and weakness in reporting of research is essential in our game. This talk explores some of the key issue with research today, and what to consider about the ‘evidence’ before you consider practice change. In no way is this talk a thorough review though, and I strongly recommend getting a good text on critically appraising the literature for those with a keen interest. Merely this talk was designed to highlight the areas where we can all be trapped, and a few tips about how researchers think.
Don’t forget to check out the Intensive Care Network for more amazing talks from SMACC, and in particular this amazing talk by Tony Brown on ‘Is the peer reviewed journal dead?’