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THE CRUCIAL TEST OF THERAPEUTIC EVIDENCE

TORALD SOLLMANN, M.D.
JAMA. 1917;LXIX(3):198-199. doi:10.1001/jama.1917.02590300038011.
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ABSTRACT

According to the good old truism, the last and crucial proof of the pudding is in the eating thereof; and so, the last and crucial test of a therapeutic agent is its consumption by a patient. There is, however, one essential difference: When the pudding is eaten, with a sense of satisfaction, we know that it was a good, or at least an eatable pudding.

If the patient improves after taking a remedy, we do not yet know that he improved on account of the remedy. The post hoc type of reasoning or logic is not respectable; but it is all too apt to creep in unawares, unless one takes great precautions indeed.

Clinical evidence needs especially to be on its guard against this pitfall, for the conditions of disease never remain constant; nor is it possible to foresee with certainty the direction which they are going to take. It

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The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
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