I hadn’t realized it had been a month since I shared about concepts. I completed the assignment, and hopefully did a good job communicating what I found. As expected it was different, but not difficult, and very eye opening.
I chose to look at the concept of “elective” as we use it to describe an elective induction. I knew there were problems with the use of the word, and I wanted to learn how to highlight those problems. As expected, my analysis found multiple meanings of the word, which leads me to today’s reminder: always ask questions about everything you read.
The problem with multiple meanings is that we are talking about very different things–things that could even be the opposite of each other–and we make the assumption that we are talking about the same thing. What was the most disturbing to me is that for the assignment I was limited to peer-reviewed scientific literature; I was only looking at published research. This wasn’t disagreement by pregnant women about what was a legitimate reason for an induction. This wasn’t disagreement among health care providers. This was disagreement among scientists trying to determine what the risks and benefits of the procedure may be.
What questions should you be asking when you read? Basically, what was the methodology (the boring science part of the study). So, if you wanted to know about how eating carrots affects pregnancy you need to ask yourself, “Who did they include, and who did they exclude as carrot eaters?” Did they only include women who are otherwise healthy, or did they only include women who are having a particular issue with pregnancy? You need to know how they measured “eating” carrots. Did a woman count as a carrot eater if she at a carrot once, or did she need to eat them every day, or did she need to eat a certain total amount of carrots? You need to understand why this particular population was selected, and what that means about how they are defining a carrot eater or not a carrot eater. Were women chosen because they visited a dietitian during pregnancy, or recruited through a cooking class, or were they chosen because they happened to be the women using a particular clinic? Where women are recruited might make a difference in what the “normal” diet is, and you need to be able to decide if that difference is meaningful.