There were only 13 people in the active arm of the trial. Is this really newsworthy? If so, shouldn’t it be wrapped into the context of past claims for supplements for osteoarthritis?
Yet this story didn’t give any sense of the scope of the benefits found in the study. Did everyone taking creatine supplements improve in comparison with controls? If so, how much did they improve?
Not enough here to guide news consumers in their own decision making.
Knee osteoarthritis is an important problem. Many supplements have been promoted for it. Few have solid evidence to back them up. We wish there had been a closer evaluation of the limited evidence from this trial.
The story doesn’t give any estimate of the cost of creatine supplements.
The story didn’t give any sense of the scope of the benefits found in the study. Did everyone taking creatine supplements improve in comparison with controls? If so, how much did they improve?
The story discusses improvement in stiffness and “significant” gains in lower limb lean mass and quality of life in the creatine group in very general terms. But it states that “No differences in muscle strength or pain reduction were seen between the two groups.” Which did women value more?
There was no discussion of potential harms.
A story about a study that had only 13 people in the active arm of the trial should at least mention the limitations of drawing conclusions from such a small sample. It didn’t comment on the possible limitations of self-reported physical function, stiffness and pain.
In addition, the blog post didn’t mention any of the limitations that the researchers themselves acknowledged:
There was no overt disease-mongering in the story.
There are no independent sources quoted to evaluate the findings.
The story didn’t offer any comparison or any context about other claims for other supplements for knee osteoarthritis, or about other research in this field.
The story begins by referring to the popularity of creatine supplements.
The story didn’t explain if there has been any other past research on creatine for knee osteoarthritis. Is this a first? How does it fit into the context of other research in this field?
The authors wrote: “it is important to note that our findings are in apparent dissonance with those by Roy et al., who did not observe improvements in functional recovery after 40 days of creatine supplementation in osteoarthritis patients submitted to total knee arthroplasty.”
Not applicable because we can’t be sure of the extent to which the blog post may have relied on a news release. No source, other than the journal, is listed. No one is quoted.