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Study casts doubt on duct tape wart cure


4 Star

Study casts doubt on duct tape wart cure

Our Review Summary

Beyond the polished floors of medical clinics, the unassuming roll of duct tape enjoys a gritty reputation for mastering countless tribulations of daily life, from rotted radiator hoses and sprung suitcases to broken barbecues and split rake handles. Is it possible that duct tape could also cure one of medicine’s intractable problems—the harmless, common wart? Well, maybe—and maybe not. This nifty AP story ably describes the medical threat posed by warts (“harmless, stubborn bumps” that eventually go away on their own), explains the scientific methods used to test the theory that duct tape cures warts, quantifies the research results, and outlines several other treatment options. The article also provides a glimmer of hope for duct tape devotees who might be sorry to see this unassuming therapy headed for the dust bin. The researchers used a rubberless, transparent tape foresworn by aficionados. Conceivably, the classic, silver standard tape used in previous attempts at duct tape therapy might do the trick. Or, as The Duct Tape Guys sagely observe on their distinctive website, "If duct tape isn't the answer, then you must be asking the wrong question!" ( 


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The article doesn’t comment on costs. Though most readers will know that if duct tape were effective it would cost only pennies, few are likely to know the cost of the various medical therapies – from over-the-counter ointments to lasers and injections.

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


The article notes that the researchers looked at a single outcome—the disappearance of the wart—and that one in five patients in each group had a successful outcome.

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

Not Satisfactory

According to the published study, duct tape is a virtually harmless treatment, but can cause minor irritations (numbness and bleeding in two of the 90 subjects enrolled in the study). The AP story neglects to mention this.

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


The article nicely explains the workings of a randomized, double-blind, controlled trial in which one group received treatment with moleskin alone and the other group received moleskin plus duct tape; neither doctors nor patients knew which treatment they received.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?


The news story puts warts in their proper context—saying they are “harmless, stubborn bumps” that will eventually go away on their own without any treatment at all.

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


The article quotes the lead author of the study and the chair of the dermatology department at an academic medical center with no relationship to the study.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?


The news story ably summarizes a broad range of other medical therapies that attempt to eliminate warts, from over-the-counter ointments to lasers and injections.

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


Duct tape is as American as apple pie, and if readers want to buy some they will know where to find it.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?


The news story explains that duct tape has fascinated previous researchers, and “earned a place in the medicine cabinet in 2002.”

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


No obvious use of text from a press release.

Total Score: 8 of 10 Satisfactory


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