Question 8: Does it refer to areas of uncertainty?
What the question is about and why it is important
A good quality publication will include a reference to
grey areas where there is uncertainty about the most effective treatment.
This uncertainty may be because:
no evidence about effective treatment choices exists
the existing evidence is contradictory
there is uncertainty as to who is most likely to benefit or be at risk
from the treatment choice.
A good quality publication will highlight the fact that the choice of
the most suitable treatment may not be clear-cut and that it may not be possible to
predict the most likely outcome for you.
Rating the question
Your judgement will be very important for rating this question.
Guidelines for rating the question:
5: Yes - the publication includes a clear reference
to any uncertainty regarding treatment choices: this may be linked to each
treatment choice or may be covered in a more general discussion or summary of the
choices mentioned in the publication.
2 - 4: Partially - uncertainty is
mentioned but the information is unclear or incomplete.
1: No - no uncertainty about treatment choices is
The question cannot be used to assess whether all
aspects of uncertainty regarding a treatment choice or choices have been covered by the
publication (as this would involve checking against other sources).
A minority of women will experience side-effects, but it is not
always possible to know who these women will be until after treatment has been
Doctors may give you vague answers to your questions, or may not
be able to answer them all. Different doctors may give you different advice. You may be
able to find out about the overall success rate of a treatment but doctors may not be able
to tell you whether the treatment will definitely work for you. Some people find dealing
with this uncertainty difficult. You may find it helpful to discuss your concerns with
family or friends or someone from a support group.
A webpage describes a single treatment for a skin condition. The page is
written by a doctor and is found in the section on treatments on a national self-help
organisation's website. The sources of evidence quoted are the scientist who developed and
sells the treatment and the case of one of the doctors patients who has experienced
a miraculous cure. The only reference to other treatment choices is the
statement that all other treatments for the condition are associated with
unacceptable side-effects and the possibility of permanent disfigurement
if no treatment is used. The patients search for a cure is described as
torture that led him to try other treatments that left him scarred
and suicidal. The treatment is said to produce stunning and permanent
results after a few applications with no risks or side-effects. The author
recommends the treatment as suitable for anyone and bringing hope to all
those who have despaired of finding relief from this devastating and unsightly