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The Gold Standard? - Part 1

Question Everything

In my health ministry, I start off every session with the statement, “where did you learn that?” I remind my participants to titrate back to the source of the information and make sure it’s credible and has their best interests in mind.

In medicine, most of the methods and standards deployed in your doctors office or local hospital are based on evidence. Be careful, because the evidence may not be what you think.


Remember - “Where did you learn that?” or where is this evidence coming from?


Medical Gold Standards

There are 2 gold standards for medical data that is used to determine what you receive from healthcare.

  1. Peer reviewed data published in major medical journals, and

  2. Randomized controlled studies that attempt to isolate cause and effect to determine causes of disease.

Today we will explore the peer-review process.

An article from the Washington Post on August 1, 2019 discusses the “peer reviewed data” gold standard of evidence, used mainly by the medical community that accepts medical insurance.

“Researchers commonly refer to peer review as the “gold standard,” which makes it seem as if a peer-reviewed paper — one sent by journal editors to experts in the field who assess and critique it before publication — must be legitimate, and one that’s not reviewed must be untrustworthy. But peer review, a practice dating to the 17th century, is neither golden nor standardized. Studies have shown that:

  • Journal editors prefer reviewers of the same gender,

  • Women are underrepresented in the peer review process.

  • Reviewers tend to be influenced by demographic factors like the institutional affiliation.

  • Shoddy work often makes it past peer reviewers.

  • At times excellent research has been shot down.

Peer reviewers often fail to detect bad research, conflicts of interest and corporate ghostwriting.”