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Know the Science: How To Make Sense of a Scientific Journal Article

The words “Scientific Article” appear at the top of the page, with a fictional title, Clinical Study of Integrative Health Practices, below them. A fictional list of authors, James A. Smith, Ph.D., Karen B. Jones, M.D., Michael C. Helix, Ph.D., M.D., Lauren B. Smartz, Ph.D., R.N., F.N.P., Bryan S. Miller, Ph.D., M.D., appears under the title. The left column shows labeled sections of the journal article: Abstract, Methods, Results, Discussion, Key Words, References. All sections except Key Words are clickable. Gray lines appear in place of the text in each section in the left column and in the entire right column. These words appear at the lower right: Medical Journal Volume 30, Issue 8, August 2022AbstractMethodsResultsDiscussionReferences

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Design of the Study

In a controlled clinical trial, researchers compare the effects of different treatments in groups of study participants who are as identical as possible in all other respects. Participants are assigned to either a “control group” or an “experimental group.”

Placebo and control treatment

Study A

Controlled clinical trial—results from the experimental group, who receives an experimental treatment or care, are compared with the results of the control group, who receives standard care or an inactive substance.

Study A

Study B

Double-blind, controlled study—the experimental group receives the treatment being studied and the control group receives standard care or an inactive substance. Neither the participants nor the researchers know who is in the experimental or the control group.

Study B