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Most Findings in Health Psychology are not Believable

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Brief slide presentation from Roundtable at European Health Psychology Conference, Bordeaux, France, July 17, 2013

Brief slide presentation from Roundtable at European Health Psychology Conference, Bordeaux, France, July 17, 2013

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  • 1. Provocations Roundtable, EHPS, Bordeaux, 2013 Most Findings in Health Psychology Are Not Believable James C. Coyne University of Groningen, University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG), The Netherlands @CoyneoftheRealm
  • 2. Psychology and psychiatry articles 5 times more likely to report positive findings than articles in physics and other hard sciences.
  • 3. Can we trust what we read in journals? Ioannidis, J. P. (2005). Why most published research findings are false. PLoS medicine, 2(8), e124. Shun-Shin, M. J., & Francis, D. P. (2013). Why Even More Clinical Research Studies May Be False: Effect of Asymmetrical Handling of Clinically Unexpected Values. PLOS ONE, 8(6), e65323.
  • 4. Copyright ©2005 American Heart Association Modified from Loscalzo, J. Circulation 2005;112:3026-3029 Incentives and Pressures ForIncentives and Pressures For Confirmatory BiasConfirmatory Bias
  • 5. Ioannidis, J. (2012). Scientific inbreeding and same-team replication: Type D personality as an example. Journal of Psychosomatic Research.  Obedient replication: Investigators feel that the prevailing views are so dominant that finding consistent results is a sign of being a good scientist and there is no room for dissenting results and objections.
  • 6. Ioannidis, J. (2012). Scientific inbreeding and same-team replication: Type D personality as an example. Journal of Psychosomatic Research.  Obliged replication: Proponents of dominant view are so strong in controlling the publication venues that they can largely select and mold the results, wording, and interpretation of studies eventually published.
  • 7. Telling It Like It Ain’t: How toTelling It Like It Ain’t: How to Succeed in Health PsychologySucceed in Health Psychology  Have Lots of Endpoints and Ignore Negative Results in Main Analyses of Primary Endpoints.  Favor Secondary Analyses, Subgroup Analyses, and Endpoints Developed Post Hoc over Negative Findings for Primary Analyses.  Ignore Methodological Shortcomings that Would Make Trial or Meta Analyses Invalid.
  • 8. Telling It Like It Ain’t: How toTelling It Like It Ain’t: How to Succeed in Health PsychologySucceed in Health Psychology • Present Negative Findings as if Positive in Subsequent Publications, Exaggerate Positive Findings.  Assess Multiple Endpoints, Treat any Significant Finding as a Replication of Past Findings.  Create a False Consensus and Seeming Unanimity in the Literature by Cherrypicking Findings that can be Construed as Positive, Ignoring the Rest.
  • 9. Do we modify Sackett’s definition of evidence- based medicine as "the conscientious, explicit and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients” To Evidence-based health psychology is ‘the careful selection, analysis, and interpretation of results to put theories and interventions in the best possible light, upholding the credibility of the field.’
  • 10. Change what is viewed as “for the good of the field”  Need to stop viewing producing evidence upholding dominant theories and efficacy of interventions as overarching goal of publication.  Need to recognize null findings, nonreplication, and criticism of dominant views as accomplishments in need of protecting and publishing.

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