Letter: 30 per cent of a small number is very small

Dear Editor

It is disappointing to see the poor quality journalism in the headline in GP magazine (26 May) 'NSAIDs raise heart failure risk by 30%'.

Even non-medical news organisations, such as the BBC and national newpapers, now recognise that to present data simply in terms of relative risk is misleading and thus unhelpful.

Absolute risk should be used as the point of reference. In this case, absolute risk would be a statement of the number of extra admissions to hospital per 1,000 people taking NSAIDs.

Even The Times, correctly stated in its article on the same data (22 May), that the number of extra admissions is about 1 per 1,000 users per annum - a far cry from the rather sensationalist tone of your headline.

That NSAIDs increase HF risk has also been known (see Epidemiology 2003; 14: 240-6).

The problem with relative risk is that a small number, even when increased by 30 per cent, remains a small number.

Dr Jeremy Budd, Bridgwater, Somerset.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

GP services could be outsourced overseas under licensing changes being explored by the GMC

GP services could be outsourced overseas under licensing changes being explored by the GMC

General practice could be outsourced to digital medical services based overseas under...

London CCGs contest demands to pay for patients moving to GP at Hand

London CCGs contest demands to pay for patients moving to GP at Hand

London CCGs are contesting demands that they pay for patients who have signed up...

GP who secretly filmed CQC inspection suspended for two months

GP who secretly filmed CQC inspection suspended for two months

A single-handed GP who made covert audio and video recordings of his CQC inspection...

GMC sanction 12 times more likely for doctors who do badly in postgrad exams

GMC sanction 12 times more likely for doctors who do badly in postgrad exams

Doctors who perform poorly in postgraduate professional exams are twelve times more...

GP indemnity costs set to rise under government regulation plans

GP indemnity costs set to rise under government regulation plans

GPs could face increased costs under plans to regulate provision of medical indemnity,...

New vitamin D guidelines aim to provide clarity on testing and prescribing

New vitamin D guidelines aim to provide clarity on testing and prescribing

Dr Terry Aspray explains what the National Osteoporosis Society's new clinical guidelines...