Note to our followers: Our nearly 13-year run of daily publication of new content on HealthNewsReview.org came to a close at the end of 2018. Publisher Gary Schwitzer and other contributors may post new articles periodically. But all of the 6,000+ articles we have published contain lessons to help you improve your critical thinking about health care interventions. And those will be still be alive on the site for a couple of years.
Read Original Story

Creatine supplements may benefit women with knee osteoarthritis

Rating

2 Star

Creatine supplements may benefit women with knee osteoarthritis

Our Review Summary

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.

 

Why This Matters

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.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The story doesn’t give any estimate of the cost of creatine supplements.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

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?

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

There was no discussion of potential harms.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Not Satisfactory

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:

  • the trial included no patients with severe osteoarthritis, “hence this finding cannot be extrapolated to patients with a more debilitating disease (e.g.,patients undergoing arthroplasty).”
  • “this data cannot be generalized to men, as our sample was composed strictly by women.”
  • “the follow-up was rather short warranting additional investigations regarding the efficacy of long-term creatine supplementation.”

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

There was no overt disease-mongering in the story.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Not Satisfactory

There are no independent sources quoted to evaluate the findings.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

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.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Satisfactory

The story begins by referring to the popularity of creatine supplements.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Not Satisfactory

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.”

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?

Not Applicable

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.

Total Score: 2 of 9 Satisfactory

Comments

Please note, comments are no longer published through this website. All previously made comments are still archived and available for viewing through select posts.