The importance of understanding medical research methods

Understanding research is an important part of the training of all health professionals. This include both being able to do research and interpret research. This is so important as all health professionals have to need to be able to implement research findings into their clinical practice. Sometimes research findings can contradict the beliefs of individual clinicians and they need the skills to be able to reconcile those differences to give the best evidence based treatment to their patients. It is the research that tells us what treatments do work and which one either do not work or are no better than a placebo. On the regular chat show for podiatrists, PodChatLive this is a topic that comes up regularly in the context of many different topic that they talk about. It is such an important issue that the hosts of the show devoted a whole episode to the topic of research methods and their importance for clinicians to really understand.

In the PodChatLive episode on research method the hosts chatted with the research physiotherapist Rod Whiteley.  In the episode they talked about why it is important for all clinicians to regularly read and understand research papers and be confident doing so. They talked about some tips on how to read a paper along the way. They touched on issue p values and why 0.05 is not the magic number as well as the use of confidence intervals, reliability, number needed to treat (NNT) and the minimal clinically important difference. One key takeaway for everyone from the episode would be to learn about effect sizes.  Dr Rod Whiteley PhD is a Specialist Sports Physiotherapist who has spent time on the College of Sports Physiotherapy’s Board as their Chief Examiner and has worked with a number of professional and international teams and individuals in in many sports, including Rugby League, Rugby Union, Baseball, Football, Squash, and Athletics.