Intended for healthcare professionals

Endgames Statistical Question

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 25 May 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d3126
  1. Philip Sedgwick, senior lecturer in medical statistics
  1. 1Section of Medical and Healthcare Education, St George’s, University of London, Tooting, London, UK
  1. p.sedgwick{at}

Last week’s question described a trial that assessed the effectiveness of topical intranasal corticosteroids in children aged 4-11 years who had bilateral otitis media with effusion.1 A randomised double blind, placebo controlled superiority trial was performed.2 The primary end point was proportion of children cured of bilateral otitis media with effusion in one or both ears at one month. In total, 105 children were allocated to receive nasal mometasone furoate 50 μg, given once daily into each nostril for three months, and 112 to placebo spray.

At one month, 40.6% of the topical steroid group and 44.9% of the placebo group were cured. The …

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