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Teaching kids to assess goopy health claims.

Teaching kids to assess goopy health claims. Matt Oxman, 08/12/16, #UnderstandingEvidence series, Cochrane UK
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Evidently Cochrane makes evidence accessible, but so does Gwyneth Paltrow on her blog Goop. The difference is in the quality of evidence. However, if most people cannot tell apart a systematic review from Paltrow’s anecdote about the benefits of “bee venom therapy”, where do you think they will go for their health advice? Cochrane certainly cannot compete in terms of celebrity. “I was recently given ‘bee venom therapy’ for an old injury and it disappeared.” ~ Gwyneth Paltrow. Before the will to access high-quality evidence must come appreciation of what makes high-quality evidence. Without this understanding, people are prone to be misled by unreliable health claims and make uninformed choices, leading to waste and unnecessary suffering much more serious than bee stings...
In 2014, we began developing the first resources, targeting Ugandan 10-year-olds and their parents, respectively. For the kids, we have made a combination textbook and comic book, with supplemental materials including an exercise book and a guide for teachers using the materials in their classrooms...
The resources cover concepts such as the difference between personal experiences (anecdotal evidence) and a large fair comparison (randomised trial). They also include the concept of weighing benefits versus harms—for example, living like a celebrity versus being stung by bees

Matt Oxman
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