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— A supposition or a system of ideas intended to explain how a treatment works

Full explanation:

Theories about treatment effects have sometimes been used to justify the introduction and use of treatments, sometimes with disastrous results. Unless the validity of theories is assessed in fair tests, patients will continue to suffer and die unnecessarily.


For example, the untested theory that babies would be less likely to choke and die if put to sleep on their fronts led to tens of thousands of avoidable cot deaths. Furthermore, theories can lead to the rejection of an effective treatment, for example, when some neuroscientists declared it inconceivable that magnesium sulphate could be an effective anti-convulsant. A large randomized study confirmed that the drug was effective in treating eclamptic convulsions.

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