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The dangers of good intentions

BMJ 1994; 309 doi: (Published 01 October 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;309:883
  1. I Robertson

    It is 1939 in urban Massachusetts. A group of social workers and social psychologists devise a plan which will take young delinquents off the streets and give them a stake in society. The scientists among them, however, insist that, though the scheme is self evidently worth while and of benefit to the boys, there must be a control group against which to compare the benefits of this programme of counselling and practical help.

    Seven hundred boys are therefore randomly assigned to a control group and to an experimental group respectively. The fortunate 50% receive a twice monthly visit from a counsellor and get …

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