Working on an editorial about the importance of evidence based social policy, I re-discovered this moment of genius from Archie Cochrane which I thought I’d share. It’s 1971, he’s part way through a randomised trial comparing Coronary Care Units against home care, and the time has come to share some results with the cardiologists.
I am not asking you to appreciate the results: this was a long time ago, and the findings will not be generalisable to modern CCU’s.
I am inviting you to appreciate the mischief.
The results at that stage showed a slight numerical advantage for those who had been treated at home. I rather wickedly compiled two reports: one reversing the number of deaths on the two sides of the trial. As we were going into the committee, in the anteroom, I showed some cardiologists the results. They were vociferous in their abuse: “Archie,” they said “we always thought you were unethical. You must stop this trial at once.”
I let them have their say for some time, then apologized and gave them the true results, challenging them to say as vehemently, that coronary care units should be stopped immediately. There was dead silence and I felt rather sick because they were, after all, my medical colleagues.
The quote is from Non-Random Reflections on Health Services Research. It’s a romp.