Scientific Abstracts Are not as Accurate as You Think

Posted by The Evidence Blog on December 3, 2013

With the introduction of healthcare reform legislation in the United States, there has been a growing emphasis on the utilization of clinical evidence for the practice of medicine and to inform healthcare policies. But where can clinicians find the most up-to-date information about the latest medical research? In most cases, they go to peer-reviewed journals to read the manuscripts that report clinical trial results. The published results inform healthcare professionals’ care-management decisions.
However, in scientific literature, abstracts may be the only substantive portion of a manuscript that busy professionals have time to read. When clinicians rely only on the abstracts, they may not get an accurate picture of the clinical trial results. Our latest white paper, A Professional’s Guide to the Use and Misuse of Scientific Abstracts, explains why.

Did you know that some journal abstracts do not include all of the necessary and important information about the research that was performed, especially the study’s purpose, design, results, and conclusions? The results of surveys of abstracts in the scientific literature have found that even in prominent, well-regarded medical journals, such as the New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of the American Medical Association, British Medical Journal, The Lancet, Circulation, and the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, a substantial proportion of abstracts don’t include all of the necessary and important information about the research that was performed. Some abstracts even fail to report side effects or harms. When healthcare professionals, journalists, or consumers use incomplete or inaccurate abstracts as the primary source of information to evaluate new or evolving healthcare technologies, they could make incorrect assumptions about their safety and effectiveness that ultimately harm patients.

Download your complimentary copy of A Professional’s Guide to the Use and Misuse of Scientific Abstracts today to read more about how to get the most out of scientific abstracts. Use the checklist included in the white paper to quickly determine whether or not the abstract you’re reading includes accurate and complete information.

Topics: Hayes Blog

Sign up to receive updates from our blog

Our latest articles

New Call-to-action