Synthesizing Evidence – Shifting the Focus From Individual Studies to the Body of Evidence



“The research enterprise behaves as if a single study could provide the ultimate answer to a clinical question,” write M. Hassan Murad, M.D., M.P.H., and Victor M. Montori, M.D., M.Sc., of the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. “Researchers offer over optimistic sample-size calculations and other design features to convince funders and institutional review boards that their study will provide the answer. Medical journals and the popular media highlight single studies, too often without regard to similar studies.”

Researchers with the Cochrane Centre have advocated for the results of individual studies to be placed in the context of the totality of evidence for the last 15 years, with limited success.  In this Viewpoint, the authors offer reasons to shift the collective focus from single studies to the accumulating body of evidence.

(JAMA. 2013;309[21]:2217-2218.