Visualizing clinical evidence: citation networks for the incubation periods of respiratory viral infections.

TitleVisualizing clinical evidence: citation networks for the incubation periods of respiratory viral infections.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsReich NG, Perl TM, Cummings DAT, Lessler J
JournalPLoS One
Volume6
Issue4
Paginatione19496
Date Published2011
ISSN1932-6203
KeywordsData Interpretation, Statistical, Databases, Bibliographic, Evidence-Based Medicine, Humans, Infectious Disease Incubation Period, Publications, Research Design, Respiratory Tract Infections, Review Literature as Topic, Viruses
Abstract

Simply by repetition, medical facts can become enshrined as truth even when there is little empirical evidence supporting them. We present an intuitive and clear visual design for tracking the citation history of a particular scientific fact over time. We apply this method to data from a previously published literature review on the incubation period of nine respiratory viral infections. The resulting citation networks reveal that the conventional wisdom about the incubation period for these diseases was based on a small fraction of available data and in one case, on no retrievable empirical evidence. Overall, 50% of all incubation period statements did not provide a source for their estimate and 65% of original sources for incubation period data were not incorporated into subsequent publications. More standardized and widely available methods for visualizing these histories of medical evidence are needed to ensure that conventional wisdom cannot stray too far from empirically supported knowledge.

DOI10.1371/journal.pone.0019496
Alternate JournalPLoS ONE
PubMed ID21559339
PubMed Central IDPMC3084881
Grant List1U54GM088491-0109 / GM / NIGMS NIH HHS / United States
U54 GM088491 / GM / NIGMS NIH HHS / United States
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