Thursday, November 09, 2006

And another anti-stuttering device...

The latest article published on PubMedLine is about a new device using delayed auditory feedback. The authors study a prototype device using a modification of a currently used bone conduction hearing device with delayed auditory feedback on adult patients with significant stuttering problems.

What have they found? Not surprisingly, they find a positive effect for the immediate 4-week period after the start of use, and a somewhat significant effect for the 2-week period. But no effect at the 6-week follow-up.

They somewhat desperatedly conclude that:

A new antistuttering prototype using a modification of a bone conduction device with delayed temporal feedback is effective in decreasing stuttering in patients over a short time course. Further studies need to be completed to evaluate the long-term effects of the device.

Just based on the abstract, I have the following comments. First, they cannot claim effectiveness, because they have not computed the effect size, but only talk about statistically significant difference (i.e. p-values). Second, the device might well show an effect, but the finding is a bit irrelevant. Every treatment shows some effectiveness over a short time course. What about the placebo effect? Third, I do not understand why they would want to conduct further studies on the long-term effect, because they have already found no effect at the 6-week follow-on?

Nevertheless, I believe that the research was worth conducting, but the authors should have been more honest in their conclusions and not spin them.

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