Benefits and black holes in the latest Cochrane evidence

If you read my last blog, you’ll know I’ve been getting hot under the collar about evidence gaps and I’m not about to quieten down about those any time soon, as you’ll see if you read to the end of the blog. There are not just gaps but some enormous black holes, this time not because no evidence was found but because so much of it was unusable. But at least there’s good news too; some reviewers find what they’re looking for and can give us evidence which shows benefits from particular interventions. So, if you logged on thinking you’d like to read about teeth, pain (from several causes), schizophrenia treatments, gut bacteria and jellyfish (really!), you’ve come to the right place. Continue reading

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A sting in the tail? Venom immunotherapy may help or harm: evidence from a new Cochrane review

Key message:Venom immunotherapy is effective in preventing serious allergic reactions and large local reactions to insect stings, but it carries a risk of systemic allergic reaction.

If you’re someone who’s suffered a severe allergic reaction to a sting, or if you’re a clinician with patients who have, you’ll be interested to hear about a new review, from the Cochrane Skin Group, on the use of venom immunotherapy (VIT) for preventing future reactions to stings. As with any treatment, the potential benefits have to be weighed against the risks of harm, and this is a significant issue for this treatment. Continue reading