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Concept: Experimental design


The aerial view of the concept of data sharing is beautiful. What could be better than having high-quality information carefully reexamined for the possibility that new nuggets of useful data are lying there, previously unseen? The potential for leveraging existing results for even more benefit pays appropriate increased tribute to the patients who put themselves at risk to generate the data. The moral imperative to honor their collective sacrifice is the trump card that takes this trick. However, many of us who have actually conducted clinical research, managed clinical studies and data collection and analysis, and curated data sets have . . .

Concepts: Experimental design, Clinical trial, Medical statistics, Avicenna, Clinical research, Morality, Contract bridge, Donald Trump


 To examine the traditional diet-heart hypothesis through recovery and analysis of previously unpublished data from the Minnesota Coronary Experiment (MCE) and to put findings in the context of existing diet-heart randomized controlled trials through a systematic review and meta-analysis.

Concepts: Experimental design, Epidemiology, Evidence-based medicine, Systematic review, Randomized controlled trial, Evaluation methods, Hypothesis, Meta-analysis


Previous studies indicate that in published reports, trial results can be distorted by the use of “spin” (specific reporting strategies, intentional or unintentional, emphasizing the beneficial effect of the experimental treatment). We aimed to (1) evaluate the presence of “spin” in press releases and associated media coverage; and (2) evaluate whether findings of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) based on press releases and media coverage are misinterpreted.

Concepts: Cohort study, Experimental design, Epidemiology, Clinical trial, Randomized controlled trial,, Evaluation methods, Pharmaceutical industry


Obesity is associated with increased mortality, and weight loss trials show rapid improvement in many mortality risk factors. Yet, observational studies typically associate weight loss with higher mortality risk. The purpose of this meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of weight loss was to clarify the effects of intentional weight loss on mortality.

Concepts: Experimental design, Epidemiology, Clinical trial, Medical statistics, The Canon of Medicine, Randomized controlled trial, Pharmaceutical industry, Clinical research


The study determined the one year incidence of post operative cognitive decline (POCD) and evaluated the effectiveness of an intra-operative anaesthetic intervention in reducing post-operative cognitive impairment in older adults (over 60 years of age) undergoing elective orthopaedic or abdominal surgery. METHODS AND TRIAL DESIGN: The design was a prospective cohort study with a nested randomised, controlled intervention trial, using intra-operative BiSpectral index and cerebral oxygen saturation monitoring to enable optimisation of anaesthesia depth and cerebral oxygen saturation in older adults undergoing surgery.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Cohort study, Experimental design, Epidemiology, Clinical trial, Randomized controlled trial, Surgery, Anesthesia


BACKGROUND: Tinnitus, the perception of sound in absence of an external acoustic source, impairs the quality of life in 2% of the population. Since in most cases causal treatment is not possible, the majority of therapeutic attempts aim at developing and strengthening individual coping and habituation strategies. Therapeutic interventions that incorporate training in mindfulness meditation have become increasingly popular in the treatment of stress-related disorders. Here we conducted a randomized, controlled clinical study to investigate the efficacy of a specific mindfulness- and body-psychotherapy based program in patients suffering from chronic tinnitus. METHODS: Thirty-six patients were enrolled in this pilot study. The treatment was specifically developed for tinnitus patients and is based on mindfulness and body psychotherapy. Treatment was performed as group therapy at two training weekends that were separated by an interval of 7 weeks (eleven hours/weekend) and in four further two-hour sessions (week 2, 9, 18 and 22). Patients were randomized to receive treatment either immediately or after waiting time, which served as a control condition. The primary study outcome was the change in tinnitus complaints as measured by the German Version of the Tinnitus Questionnaire (TQ). RESULTS: ANOVA testing for the primary outcome showed a significant interaction effect time by group (F = 7.4; df = 1,33; p = 0.010). Post hoc t-tests indicated an amelioration of TQ scores from baseline to week 9 in both groups (intervention group: t = 6.2; df = 17; p < 0.001; control group: t = 2.5; df = 16; p = 0.023), but the intervention group improved more than the control group. Groups differed at week 7 and 9, but not at week 24 as far as the TQ score was concerned. CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that this mindfulness- and body-psychotherapy-based approach is feasible in the treatment of tinnitus and merits further evaluation in clinical studies with larger sample sizes.The study is registered with (NCT01540357).

Concepts: Experimental design, Clinical trial, Effectiveness,, Clinical research, Psychotherapy, Meditation, Mindfulness


Self-control problems commonly manifest as temper outbursts and repetitive/rigid/impulsive behaviors, in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), which often contributes to learning difficulties and caregiver burden. The present study aims to compare the effect of a traditional Chinese Chan-based mind-body exercise, Nei Yang Gong, with that of the conventional Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) technique in enhancing the self-control of children with ASD. Forty-six age- and IQ-matched ASD children were randomly assigned to receive group training in Nei Yang Gong (experimental group) or PMR (control group) twice per week for four weeks. The participants' self-control was measured by three neuropsychological tests and parental rating on standardized questionnaires, and the underlying neural mechanism was assessed by the participants' brain EEG activity during an inhibitory-control task before and after intervention. The results show that the experimental group demonstrated significantly greater improvement in self-control than the control group, which concurs with the parental reports of reduced autistic symptoms and increased control of temper and behaviors. In addition, the experimental group showed enhanced EEG activity in the anterior cingulate cortex, a region that mediates self-control, whereas the PMR group did not. The present findings support the potential application of Chinese Chan-based mind-body exercises as a form of neuropsychological rehabilitation for patients with self-control problems. Chinese Clinical Trial Registry; Registration No.: ChiCTR-TRC-12002561; URL:

Concepts: Psychology, Experimental design, Autism, Neuropsychology, Autism spectrum, Brodmann area 24, Anterior cingulate cortex, Cingulate cortex


BACKGROUND: Prolonged physical impairments in range of movement, postural stability and walking speed are commonly reported following total hip replacement (THR). It is unclear from the current body of evidence what kind of exercises should be performed to maximize patient function and quality of life.Methods/designThis will be a single blind multi centre randomized control trial with two arms. Seventy subjects post primary total hip arthroplasty will be randomized into either an experimental group (n=35), or to a control group (n=35).. The experimental group will attend a functional exercise class twice weekly for a six week period from week 12 to week 18 post surgery. The functional exercise group will follow a circuit based functional exercise class supervised by a chartered Physiotherapist. The control group will receive usual care. The principal investigator (BM) will perform blinded outcome assessments on all patients using validated measures for pain, stiffness, and function using the Western Ontario and Mc Master Universities Osteoarthritis index (WOMAC). This is the primary outcome measurement tool. Secondary outcome measurements include Quality of life (SF-36), 6 min walk test, Visual Analogue Scale, and the Berg Balance score. The WOMAC score will be collated on day five post surgery and repeated at week twelve and week eighteen. All other measurements will be taken at week 12 and repeated at week eighteen. In addition a blinded radiologist will measure gluteus medius cross sectional area using real time ultrasound for all subjects at week 12 and at week 18 to determine if the functional exercise programme has any effect on muscle size. DISCUSSION: This randomised controlled trial will add to the body of evidence on the relationship between muscle size, functional ability, balance, quality of life and time post surgery in patients following total hip arthroplasty. The CONSORT guidelines will be followed to throughout. Ethical approval has been gained from the Ethics committee Health Services Executive Dublin North East.Trial registrationThis trial is registered with (a service of the United States National Institutes of Health) identifier NCT01683201.

Concepts: Experimental design, Randomized controlled trial, Hip replacement, Hip, Pelvis, Orthopedic surgery, Joint replacement


MOTIVATION: Biochemical reaction networks in the form of coupled ordinary differential equations (ODEs) provide a powerful modeling tool for understanding the dynamics of biochemical processes. During the early phase of modeling, scientists have to deal with a large pool of competing nonlinear models. At this point, discrimination experiments can be designed and conducted to obtain optimal data for selecting the most plausible model. Since biological ODE models have widely distributed parameters due to, e.g., biologic variability or experimental variations, model responses become distributed. Therefore, a robust optimal experimental design (OED) for model discrimination can be used to discriminate models based on their response probability distribution functions (PDFs). RESULTS: In this work we present an optimal control based methodology for designing optimal stimulus experiments aimed at robust model discrimination. For estimating the time-varying model response PDF, which results from the nonlinear propagation of the parameter PDF under the ODE dynamics, we suggest using the Sigma-Point approach. Using the model overlap (expected likelihood) as a robust discrimination criterion to measure dissimilarities between expected model response PDFs, we benchmark the proposed nonlinear design approach against linearization with respect to prediction accuracy and design quality for two nonlinear biological reaction networks. As we show, the Sigma-Point outperforms the linearization approach in the case of widely distributed parameter sets and/or existing multiple steady states. Since the Sigma-Point approach scales linearly with the number of model parameter, it can be applied to large systems for robust experimental planing. AVAILABILITY: An implementation of the method in MATLAB/AMPL is available at CONTACT: flassig@mpi-magdeburg.mpg SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Supplementary details and discussions are available at Bioinformatics online.

Concepts: Experimental design, Experiment, Model, Design of experiments, Differential equation, Design, Charles Sanders Peirce, Optimal design


BACKGROUND: Using surrogate biomarkers for disease progression as endpoints in neuroprotective clinical trials may help differentiate symptomatic effects of potential neuroprotective agents from true disease-modifying effects. A systematic review was undertaken to determine what biomarkers for disease progression in Parkinson’s disease (PD) exist. METHODS: MEDLINE and EMBASE (1950–2010) were searched using five search strategies. Abstracts were assessed to identify papers meriting review in full. Studies of participants with idiopathic PD diagnosed by formal criteria or clearly described clinical means were included. We made no restriction on age, disease duration, drug treatment, or study design. We included studies which attempted to draw associations between any tests used to investigate disease progression and any clinical measures of disease progression. The electronic search was validated by hand-searching the two journals from which most included articles came. RESULTS: 183 studies were included: 163 (89%) cross-sectional, 20 (11%) longitudinal. The electronic search strategy had a sensitivity of 71.4% (95% CI 51.1-86.0) and a specificity of 97.1% (95% CI 96.5-97.7). In longitudinal studies median follow-up was 2.0 years (IQR 1.1-3.5). Included studies were generally poor quality - cross-sectional with small numbers of participants, applying excessive inclusion/exclusion criteria, with flawed methodologies and simplistic statistical analyses. CONCLUSION: We found insufficient evidence to recommend the use of any biomarker for disease progression in PD clinical trials, which may simply reflect the poor quality of research in this area. We therefore present a provisional ‘roadmap’ for conducting future disease progression biomarker studies, and recommend new quality criteria by which future studies may be judged.

Concepts: Alzheimer's disease, Cohort study, Medicine, Experimental design, Epidemiology, Cross-sectional study, Effectiveness, Parkinson's disease