Intended for healthcare professionals

Letters Non-pharmacological interventions

Providing adequate and practical descriptions in surgical trials

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: (Published 15 October 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f6143
  1. Natalie Blencowe, National Institute for Health Research doctoral research fellow, surgery1,
  2. Nicola Mills, research fellow1,
  3. Penny Whiting, honorary research fellow1,
  4. Jane Blazeby, professor of surgery and honorary consultant surgeon1
  1. 1Centre for Surgical Research, School of Social and Community Medicine, Bristol BS8 2PS, UK
  1. natalie.blencowe{at}

Cook and colleagues highlight that descriptions of non-pharmacological interventions in randomised controlled trials are inadequate.1 Although reporting standards need to be improved, the level of information they suggest may not always be necessary.

Surgical interventions are complex, comprising many components that are delivered with multiple concomitant interventions (such as anaesthesia and postoperative care), so it may be impractical to control them all. Individual surgeons …

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