Evidence-Based Medicine

Twelve Questions to Ask About a Complementary or Alternative Therapy

Questions related to the underlying theoretical basis for the therapy

1. Is the treatment based on a theory that is overly simplistic?

2. Is the treatment based on proposed forces or principles that are inconsistent with accumulated knowledge from other scientific disciplines?

3. Has the treatment changed little over a very long period?

Questions related to the scientific evaluation of the therapy

4. Is it possible to test the treatment claim?

5. Have well-designed studies of the treatment been published in the peer-reviewed medical literature?

6. Do proponents of the treatment “cherry pick” data that support the value of the treatment while ignoring contradictory evidence?

7. Do proponents of the treatment assume a treatment is effective until there is sufficient evidence to the contrary?

8. Do proponents claim that a particular treatment cannot be studied in isolation, only in combination with a package of other interventions or practices?

Questions related to the promotion and marketing of the therapy

9. Is the treatment promoted as being free of adverse effects?

10. Is the treatment promoted primarily through the use of anecdotes?

11. Do proponents of the treatment use scientific-sounding but nonsensical terminology to describe the treatment?

12. Is the treatment promoted for a wide range of physiologically diverse conditions?

Challman TD, Myers SM. Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. In Voigt RG, Macias MM, Myers SM (Eds.): AAP Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. American Academy of Pediatrics, Elk Grove Village, 2011, pp 449-465. 

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