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Flat tyres - only at the bottom

Flat tyres - only at the bottom

" Croire que l'on sait est souvent pis que savoir qu'on ignore " - believing that one knows is often worse than knowing that one is ignorant. Bandolier saw this concerning the date of composition of the Chanson de Roland, a famous medieval ballad (Medieval Life, Spring, 2001). The trouble is knowing what we don't know.

This month's Bandolier tries to help. Prognosis is a difficult area to find good quality knowledge. Methods can be used that are similar to diagnostic testing, where it's all about finding criteria positively associated with outcome, combining them in a decision rule, and testing that rule in another population. That has been done for the risk of stroke with AF , and one year mortality for older people in hospital . Both use patient characteristics, and are helpful because an estimate of risk makes planning treatment that bit easier.

Then there are two treatment areas folk have asked about - ACE inhibitors in renal disease and diabetes , and breast reduction surgery . There were systematic reviews, or large randomised trials, or both. There were fascinating methodological issues, but more fascinating was just how fast one can go from ignorance to some semblance of understanding.

Finally, there's the appliance of anti-bias detection . That helps protect against other people's ignorance. We give a worked example of acupuncture for stroke . There's a space limit in print, so it is supported by an article on the Internet site in HTML and downloadable PDF formats.

Electronic Bandolier

The electrons have been whizzing again, with 90,000 visitors a week. On the Bandolier Internet site this month several new features:

We have pulled together information on atrial fibrillation to create a new sub site. It has information on prevalence, prevention, treatment and management issues. Over the rest of the year we will add more material.

sexual health we have reviewed currently available treatments for erectile dysfunction, with a league table of relative efficacy. The trials occasionally have interesting twists, and we try and explain what we think they are.

In healthy living you will find a section on how to lose weight. We've had some nice comments on this, and will have it as a downloadable PDF when time permits.

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