Insomnia, Snoring, Sleep Apnea

The world and life of a sleep tech

How to Tell What Research to Believe

Posted by amykr on April 8, 2009

You see it on television. You hear them on radio stations, you read them all over. The medical commercials talk about research. Diet products talk about research. So then the question is what research can you trust?

The fact is anyone can do a research project. I know that for my current class I am doing research on education in new businesses. In some sleep labs they do research for physicians or for medical companies. It is distinguishing what research you should trust and what research should you questions.

The first thing when looking at the research is to find out what publication it has been published in. If the only thing said is that the doctor works at a University but there is no publication to have printed it the research may be questionable. In order to be published in a medical Journal like JAMA or The Journal of Sleep Medicine the research must meet certain criteria. The procedure must be well controlled. There is a standard procedure to be followed. The study has to be reviewed by a panel to be part of these journals.

Next you need to look at the Journal and who is sponsoring it. Is it the company that produces the product, a college or is a specific physician or team doing research? If the company is the one supplying the money for the research then the goal is to find solutions that would benefit the company. If the research is for a university it is more likely to be unbiased. Although you must keep in mind that there is probably grant money involved that they want to continue to collect.

Finally you will want to read how many patients started and how many finished the study. You want to see how big the study was. The number of people involved makes a huge difference. It is much easier to replicate something among 15 people then among 150 people. If there were a large number of people who were dropped from the study you have to ask yourself why they were dropped. The numbers are what end up giving you the statistical answers that are the conclusion to the study.

Studies usually have the same layout as you are reading them, so it is pretty easy to follow it. The beginning is usually a summary of the report with the thesis, a short overview of the research and synapses of the conclusion. It is followed by a detailed report of the research including how the patients were chosen, how the study was performed and reasons anyone was dropped from it. There is a detailed conclusion and finally a disclosure of any conflict of interest.

It is great that we have access to a lot more information then we used to. It is necessary to understand how to read these reports so that you know what might be reliable information and what might be misleading information used to sell you a product. This keeps you a well informed advocate for yourself rather than a victim.

Amy Korn-Reavis, RRT, RPSGT has been in the respiratory field for over twenty years. She has worked in all areas and is currently focusing on sleep and how to help the community feel better by sleeping better. She is the manager of Emery Sleep Solutions an independent testing facility located in Apopka, Florida. She is also the coordinator of A.W.A.K.E. Orlando a support group for people with sleep disorders http://awakeorlando.ning.com. If you have any questions about sleep or are looking for someone to speak at your community function she can be reached at areavis@emerymedicalsolutions.com

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