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1.  Which is more generalizable, powerful and interpretable in meta-analyses, mean difference or standardized mean difference? 
Background
To examine empirically whether the mean difference (MD) or the standardised mean difference (SMD) is more generalizable and statistically powerful in meta-analyses of continuous outcomes when the same unit is used.
Methods
From all the Cochrane Database (March 2013), we identified systematic reviews that combined 3 or more randomised controlled trials (RCT) using the same continuous outcome. Generalizability was assessed using the I-squared (I2) and the percentage agreement. The percentage agreement was calculated by comparing the MD or SMD of each RCT with the corresponding MD or SMD from the meta-analysis of all the other RCTs. The statistical power was estimated using Z-scores. Meta-analyses were conducted using both random-effects and fixed-effect models.
Results
1068 meta-analyses were included. The I2 index was significantly smaller for the SMD than for the MD (P < 0.0001, sign test). For continuous outcomes, the current Cochrane reviews pooled some extremely heterogeneous results. When all these or less heterogeneous subsets of the reviews were examined, the SMD always showed a greater percentage agreement than the MD. When the I2 index was less than 30%, the percentage agreement was 55.3% for MD and 59.8% for SMD in the random-effects model and 53.0% and 59.8%, respectively, in the fixed effect model (both P < 0.0001, sign test). Although the Z-scores were larger for MD than for SMD, there were no differences in the percentage of statistical significance between MD and SMD in either model.
Conclusions
The SMD was more generalizable than the MD. The MD had a greater statistical power than the SMD but did not result in material differences.
doi:10.1186/1471-2288-14-30
PMCID: PMC3936842  PMID: 24559167
2.  Psychological characteristics of Japanese patients with chronic pain assessed by the Rorschach test 
Background
The increasing number of patients with chronic pain in Japan has become a major issue in terms of the patient's quality of life, medical costs, and related social problems. Pain is a multi-dimensional experience with physiological, affective, cognitive, behavioral and social components, and recommended to be managed via a combination of bio-psycho-social aspects. However, a biomedical approach is still the dominant method of pain treatment in Japan. The current study aimed to evaluate comprehensive psychological functions and processes in Japanese chronic pain patients.
Methods
The Rorschach Comprehensive System was administered to 49 in-patients with non-malignant chronic pain. Major variables and frequencies from the test were then compared to normative data from non-patient Japanese adults by way of the t-test and chi-square test.
Results
Patients exhibited high levels of emotional distress with a sense of helplessness with regard to situational stress, confusion, and ambivalent feelings. These emotions were managed by the patients in an inappropriate manner. Cognitive functions resulted in moderate dysfunction in all stages. Information processing tended to focus upon minute features in an inflexible manner. Mediational dysfunction was likely to occur with unstable affective conditions. Ideation was marked by pessimistic and less effective thinking. Since patients exhibited negative self-perception, their interpersonal relationship skills tended to be ineffective. Originally, our patients displayed average psychological resources for control, stress tolerance, and social skills for interpersonal relationships. However, patient coping styles were either situation- or emotion-dependent, and patients were more likely to exhibit emotional instability influenced by external stimuli, resulting in increased vulnerability to pain.
Conclusions
Data gathered from the Rorschach test suggested psychological approaches to support chronic pain patients that are likely to be highly beneficial, and we thus recommend their incorporation into the course of current pain treatments.
doi:10.1186/1751-0759-4-20
PMCID: PMC3016376  PMID: 21110860

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