Guidelines for composing and assessing a paper on the treatment of pain: A practical application of evidence-based medicine principles to the mint randomized clinical trials

Zachary L. McCormick, Yakov Vorobeychik, Jatinder S. Gill, Ming Chih J. Kao, Belinda Duszynski, Matthew Smuck, Milan P. Stojanovic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective. To perform a thorough assessment of the recently published Mint Trials in order to illustrate how to read and analyze a study critically, according to principles of evidence-based medicine. Design. Narrative review. Method. We have applied the recently published guidelines for composing and assessing studies on the treatment of pain to a recently published article describing a large study that claimed its “findings do not support the use of radiofrequency denervation to treat chronic low back pain.” These guidelines describe the critical components of a high-quality manuscript that allows communication of all relevant information from authors to readers. Results. Application of evidence-based medicine principles to the publication describing the Mint Trials reveals significant issues with the methodology and conclusions drawn by the authors. A thorough assessment demonstrates issues with inclusion/exclusion criteria, diagnostic block protocols, radiofrequency neurotomy technique, co-interventions, outcome measurement, power analysis, study sample characteristics, data analysis, and loss to follow-up. A failure to definitively establish a diagnosis, combined with use of an inadequate technique for radiofrequency neurotomy and numerous other methodological flaws, leaves the reader unable to draw meaningful conclusions from the study data. Conclusions. Critical analysis, rooted in principles of evidence-based medicine, must be employed by writers and readers alike in order to encourage transparency and ensure that appropriate conclusions are drawn from study data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2127-2137
Number of pages11
JournalPain Medicine (United States)
Volume19
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

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