Biomechanical studies: Science (f)or common sense?

Science of Variation Group

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Introduction: It is our impression that many biomechanical studies invest substantial resources studying the obvious: that more and larger metal is stronger. The purpose of this study is to evaluate if a subset of biomechanical studies comparing fixation constructs just document common sense. Methods: Using a web-based survey, 274 orthopaedic surgeons and 81 medical students predicted the results of 11 biomechanical studies comparing fracture fixation constructs (selected based on the authors' sense that the answer was obvious prior to performing the study). Sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy were calculated according to standard formulas. The agreement among the observers was calculated by using a multirater kappa, described by Siegel and Castellan. Results: The accuracy of predicting outcomes was 80% or greater for 10 of 11 studies. Accuracy was not influenced by level of experience (i.e., time in practice and medical students vs. surgeons). There were substantial differences in accuracy between observers from different regions. The overall categorical rating of inter-observer reliability according to Landis and Koch was moderate (k = 0.55; standard error (SE) = 0.01). Conclusion: The results of a subset of biomechanical studies comparing fracture fixation constructs can be predicted prior to doing the study. As these studies are time and resource intensive, one criterion for proceeding with a biomechanical study should be that the answer is not simply a matter of common sense.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2035-2039
Number of pages5
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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