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Dobbs: Flawed Research

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FLAWED CONCLUSION
AUTHOR – ROBERT GIFFORD, PhD

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Dobbs’ conflict of interest in the study “Accuracy of the DriveABLE cognitive
assessment to determine cognitive fitness to drive”1 appears to have coloured
the interpretation of the results to an unacceptable degree, and the
manuscript’s conclusions should have been totally revised, or the manuscript
rejected. Table 11 in the article clearly showed that the In-Office test had
an accuracy rate of about 69% when it gave drivers a “pass,” about 75% when
it gave a “fail,” and about 24% when it claimed a driver was “indeterminate.”
Using the diagonal percents as the measure of accuracy across all cases, the
In-Office test matched the On-Road test in 50% of all cases. A 50% accuracy
rate is far from the tenor of the conclusion the author tries to depict
(“highly accurate”), and far from a standard that one would consider to be
an overall “good” test. In summary, the “savings” provided by the In-Office
test amount to wasted funds if half of its conclusions about driver ability
are wrong. “Just test drivers on the road” should be the conclusion, in my
opinion. It is good that the conflict of interest was reported, but in this
case the conflict appears to have coloured the conclusions so much that this
article’s conclusions are severely flawed and should not have been published
as is. This shows that merely reporting a conflict of interest is not enough;
a manuscript’s interpretations and conclusions need closer scrutiny when there
is a conflict.
ONE WONDERS WHAT THE PEER REVIEWERS WERE THINKING.

Competing interests
None declared

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Reference
1. Dobbs AR. Accuracy of the DriveABLE cognitive assessment to determine cognitive
fitness to drive. Can Fam Physician. 2013;59:e156–61. Available from:
www.cfp.ca/content/59/3/e156.full.pdf+html. Accessed 2013 Jun 7.
[PMC free article][PubMed]