15 June 2010

Department of Useless Research

My mailbox every morning has a missive from ACEP in it with the recent news pertaining to EM.  Mostly it's decent stuff, though there's a bit of dross in there too.  One thing I have noticed is the apparent proliferation of research which just seems to tabulate certain injury patterns.  Like this morning's headline:

Nearly A Million Americans Taken To EDs With Weight-Training Injuries Over 18-Year Period. 
The New York Times (6/15, D7, Bakalar) reports in Vital Statistics that "a new study finds that from 1990 to 2007, nearly a million Americans wound up in emergency rooms with weight-training injuries and that annual injuries increased more than 48 percent in that period." Approximately "82 percent of the 970,000 people injured were men, according to the study, which appeared in the April issue of the American Journal of Sports Medicine." Individuals "were most often injured by dropping weights on themselves, crushing a body part between weights, or hitting themselves with the equipment."
Seriously?  Somebody thought this was a pressing enough public health problem that they had to perform a study on it?  And it got published?  Wow.  (I'm not surprised that it made the lay press, being kind of off-beat.)  There was another, more spectacularly useless one a few months ago where they reported that the number of ER visits due to people tripping on their pets was on the rise.

I'm not sure why people keep doing these pointless studies. I suspect that it has to do with the availability of large databases of ER visits in easily searchable form. Database mining is a lazy man's way to get published without putting a lot of thought into the subject.  It's a pity, because there are lots of really important research questions which do pertain to the ER which go unanswered because they are hard. 

1 comment:

  1. And then there is this latest research showing that fat people have a poorer sex life: http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/-/world/7406635/obese-have-poorer-sex-life-research/

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