Thursday, 26 June 2008

Are citrus fruits the answer?

Today in Helsinki, medical librarians from all over Europe had the opportunity to consider how we might deal with uncertainties.

Why, for example, did it take 40 years to acknowledge that the issue of lemon juice on ships would be beneficial in the treatment of scurvy?

Uncertanties? Are we all certain about what is uncertain? You know, it is ok to say that we are uncertain about what the effects of a treatment might be. In fact, if there is no systematic review of the evidence on a topic or if the only systematic reviews are inconclusive then we have no choice but to say “we are uncertain”. DUETs (the Database of Uncertainties about the Effects of Treatments) has recently been introduced under the aegis of the James Lind Alliance.

So, if you have a clinical question for which you cannot find an answer from the evidence base, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you are searching incorrectly or that you are asking the wrong question. It may be that your question constitutes an uncertainty and that further research is necessary. Find out about registering your question with DUETS by visiting the website at .

This may help to get your question onto the research agenda and to ensure that research reflects the questions that appear at the cutting edge of medicine. Influence how research grants are allocated by registering gaps in the evidence base. In doing so you may make a real contribution to improving patient care.

Alison and Vic

Partying and conferencing in Helsinki. Don't tell our Director about the former ;-)


1 comment:

  1. Thanks, that's really interesting - i have come across this problem before and assumed that i was searching the wrong way but i will bear this in mind for future reading!