Conclusion

This chapter describes the important issues to address when writing or reading a trial report. The widespread adoption of the CONSORT guidelines for reporting trials by medical journals is a major step forward, which should improve the quality of reporting considerably. What it cannot do is dictate how authors will interpret their results, or how 'consumers' will interpret and use them. Inevitably this will mean that positive results may be over-emphasized and negative results often explained away as a consequence of inadequate power according to the authors' pre-conceptions. It is then the responsibility of the reader to put aside pre-conceptions, to be equally critical of positive and negative results, and to know when to be cautious of either.

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