Scientific Article   |    
The Validity of Claims Made in Orthopaedic Print Advertisements
Timothy Bhattacharyya, MD; Paul TornettaIII, MD; William L Healy, MD; Thomas A Einhorn, MD
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Investigation performed at Boston University Medical Center, Boston, and Lahey Clinic, Burlington, Massachusetts

Timothy Bhattacharyya, MD
Paul Tornetta III, MD
Thomas A. Einhorn, MDDepartment of Orthopaedic Surgery, Boston University Medical Center, 720 Harrison Avenue, Suite 808, Boston, MA 02118. E-mail address for T.A. Einhorn: thomas.einhorn@bmc.org

William L. Healy, MD
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Lahey Clinic, 41 Mall Road, Burlington, MA 01805

The authors did not receive grants or outside funding in support of their research or preparation of this manuscript. They did not receive payments or other benefits or a commitment or agreement to provide such benefits from a commercial entity. No commercial entity paid or directed, or agreed to pay or direct, any benefits to any research fund, foundation, educational institution, or other charitable or nonprofit organization with which the authors are affiliated or associated.

A commentary is available with the electronic versions of this article, on our web site (www.jbjs.org) and on our quarterly CD-ROM (call our subscription department, at 781-449-9780, to order the CD-ROM).

J Bone Joint Surg Am, 2003 Jul 01;85(7):1224-1228
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Purpose: Orthopaedic surgeons are frequently presented with advertisements for orthopaedic and medical products in which companies make claims of clinical and scientific fact. This study was designed to evaluate the statements made in orthopaedic print advertisements and determine whether they are supported by scientific data.

Methods: Fifty statements from fifty advertisements were chosen at random from six peer-reviewed orthopaedic journals. The companies that placed the advertisements were contacted to provide supporting data for the statement of clinical or scientific fact. Three senior orthopaedic surgeons evaluated the data for quality and support. A high-quality study was defined as a study that could be published in the peer-reviewed literature. A well-supported statement was defined as a statement with enough supporting evidence to be used in clinical practice. The evaluating surgeons were blinded to product and company identification.

Results: The supporting data were from a published source for eighteen claims (36%), from a presentation at a public forum or a scientific meeting for twelve claims (24%), or were "data on file" only at the company for twelve claims (24%). Interobserver agreement among the surgeons evaluating the advertisements for quality and support was good (the average intraclass correlation coefficient was 0.72). Of the fifty claims, twenty-two were considered unsupported by scientific data, seventeen were classified as possibly supported, seven were well supported, and four were from companies that did not respond despite three requests. Claims that were supported by published data were significantly more likely to be rated as well supported (p < 0.001). All twelve claims that were supported purely by "data on file" at the company were considered to be poorly supported.

Conclusions: Orthopaedic surgeons should interpret claims made in orthopaedic print advertisements with caution. Approximately half of the claims are not supported by enough data to be used in a clinical decision-making process.

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    Accreditation Statement
    These activities have been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint sponsorship of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
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