Published online by Cambridge University Press: 30 May 2006
When we manage our patients both they and we would like to know that the interventions we prescribe have been tested and shown to be safe and effective for the uses to which they are put. The most powerful tool to determine the utility of specific interventions in the discipline of medicine is the double-blind placebo-controlled randomized clinical trial (RCT). Some of the complex problems encountered in psychogeriatrics do not lend themselves to straightforward yes or no outcomes, and some of the multifaceted interventions developed for the management of common psychogeriatric syndromes are difficult to test using standard RCT design, especially with regard to effective blinding and appropriate control conditions (Llewellyn-Jones et al. 1999; Haynes, 1999; Ames, 1999). Nevertheless, there are specific interventions for which RCT data have been very useful in refining treatment guidelines and advice (e.g. Doody et al., 2001) and, where this is the appropriate trial design, RCTs comprise the “gold standard” by which to assess the efficacy of a treatment or “management package”.
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