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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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Minimizing Bias

It can be surprisingly difficult to avoid bias in clinical trials. If either patients or investigators know which treatment a patient received, it may affect their impression of whether the patient improved—no matter how hard they try to avoid it.

Tip: It’s important to look for what steps were taken to minimize bias. Look at the study’s design to see if the trial was “blinded” or “masked” so that neither the participants nor the investigators knew who was receiving which treatment.