Harvard Men's Health Watch

When doctors disagree: How to cope with conflicting results

"Who shall decide," asked Alexander Pope, "when doctors disagree?" It's a good question, and it must have been a very common one in Pope's day, since in 1732 medical practice was based largely on tradition and opinion, not science.

In the 21st century, medicine is very much a science. As a result, careful research should provide clear answers that stand the test of time and the scrutiny of additional investigations. That's the theory behind evidence-based, data-driven scientific medicine. But in our imperfect world, things don't always turn out as they should. How often do major studies disagree with each other? Why does it happen? And what should you do about it?

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