Massage & Bodywork

November/December 2013

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education CLASSROOM TO CLIENT | PATHOLOGY PERSPECTIVES | BODY AWARENESS | FUNCTIONAL ANATOMY | SOMATIC RESEARCH A Keen Eye Determining the Quality of a Research Study By Jerrilyn Cambron How do you know if a research study is good? It's an important question, one that can have major implications for your practice. If you read a new study, or a client brings in an article that claims massage can help a certain condition, do you know how to determine if the results can be trusted and how to discuss them with your client? And, if you think the results might benefit other clients, do you know how to share them? Knowing how to evaluate and discuss research findings will enhance your professional relationships and demonstrate you are interested in continuing to increase your knowledge base within your field of expertise. The first step in this journey is to consider where the information comes from. ESTABLISH SOURCE CREDIBILITY Clients often gather health-care information from many places—friends and family members, the library, other health-care providers, magazines, the Internet. This exploration may help them better understand what they are going through in terms of their symptoms or condition. However, the quality of information can vary greatly based on where it was retrieved. If a 54 massage & bodywork november/december 2013 client tells you that Uncle Dave told a story about a distant cousin who successfully used a particular treatment for a similar condition, you might be suspicious about Uncle Dave's accuracy. This is called "anecdotal information." Sometimes these anecdotes are useful, but many times they are no more than coincidental experiences. Even if the source is an article from a magazine, a newspaper, or the Internet that quotes a research study, further verification is needed. This will help you better understand the research so that you will be able to have an informed conversation about it, and also give you some direction as you take a deeper look at the study. Ask yourself the following questions. Who Did the Research? Were experts quoted in the article? If so, who are these experts? Do they have credentials, advanced education, a position at a major hospital or university, or a research track record? These are all good qualities in a researcher and should lead a reader to be more confident with the research results. Does the research group have a website you can visit? Can you determine who funded the study? If funding was through a trusted organization or association, then the research is more likely to be trustworthy. But, if the research was funded by a for-profit group that might benefit financially from presenting the information, there might

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