The BMJ Today: In with the new

Online publishing is evolving all the time, providing opportunities to display information in new and different ways. Our two latest State of the Art clinical reviews—still a relatively new type of article in The BMJ—(entitled “Lower urinary tract symptoms in men” and “Bariatric surgery for obesity and metabolic conditions in adults” both include interactive graphics (showing the evolution of bariatric procedures and the international prostate symptoms score, which was also reviewed in a recent blog).  Both these “infographics” illustrate the subjects in a user-friendly, easy-to-understand, dynamic manner that static illustrations cannot provide.

New approaches to an old problem are also the subject of an editorial on the complicated subject of dyslexia, as the use of coloured overlays and lenses has not yielded the hoped-for improvements in reading difficulties: in “Treating reading difficulties with colour,” the authors call for a re-think among UK dyslexia charities: “Our observation does not detract from the positive role of these charities—advice on coloured overlays and lenses is only a small part of the information provided. However, an evidence based approach from UK dyslexia charities educated by good science would enable the public to make a more informed choice.”

And so to recent research in The BMJ: “Ability of a meta-analysis to prevent redundant research” is a systematic review of studies on pain from propofol injection. In the authors’ words: “The review illustrates four major problems. Firstly, although the systematic review had identified a simple, effective, and low cost intervention and strongly suggested that additional trials on this specific issue were no longer necessary, the publication of trials has not decreased. Secondly, although the systematic review provided a clear research agenda, its influence on the design of further trials has remained poor. Thirdly, the proportion of subsequently published trials that could have had an impact on clinical practice has remained low. Finally, citing the systematic review had no clear influence on the design or relevance of subsequently published research.” Their findings highlight the part that systematic reviews should play in guiding trialists in their choice of the most appropriate study design, avoiding ill designed and clinically non-relevant trials and thus a waste of resources. Maybe not a new idea, but one that still needs to be put into practice?

Birte Twisselmann is web editor and obituaries editor, The BMJ.