Appraising the evidence
Students compete to assess research papers on saffron, cocoa butter lotion, support tights, and moxibustion
- By: Annabel Ferriman
US presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson once said that a journalist “is someone who carefully separates the wheat from the chaff, and then prints the chaff.”
But the medical charity HealthWatch is running an annual competition for students with the opposite aim—teaching students how to separate “the wheat from the chaff,” and value the wheat.
The results for this year’s contest were announced in October, and the winner was Siôn Williams from Cardiff Medical School—a 20 year old medical student from north Wales, whose present interests are neuroscience and neurology. He won £500 (€594; $777).
The competition is straightforward and open to all medical and nursing or midwifery students. Entrants are given hypothetical protocols for four clinical trials and have to rank them in order, according to which is most likely to provide a reliable answer to the stated aim of the trial. They then have to give the reasons for