Advice Giving in Medical Research Literature

Yingya Li, Bei Yu

Research output: Chapter in Book/Entry/PoemConference contribution

1 Scopus citations


Evidence-based health advice, i.e., clinical or policy recommendations, contributes greatly to guiding medical practice and public health policies. However, whether to give health advice, especially based on individual study results, is a controversial issue: on the one hand, such advice may lack a comprehensive review of all evidence and alternative practices; on the other hand, researchers have been encouraged to translate research findings to actionable practice. To date, limited attention has been given to understanding how and where health researchers give advice in their publications, which could be critical for assessing the quality of health advice in medical literature. In this study, we conducted a content analysis of all 4,866 sentences in the abstract and discussion sections in 100 individual study papers (both randomized controlled trials and observational studies), labeling each sentence as either “strong advice”, “weak advice”, or “no advice”. We found that most authors gave advice in individual studies, but they rarely gave advice in abstract only. The common practice is either to give advice in discussion sections only, or in both abstracts and discussions. When giving advice in both sections, authors tended to give weak and non-specific advice in abstracts, while using more sentences in the discussion sections to give strong and more specific advice, adding conditions required for the recommendations. The result suggests that most researchers support giving advice in individual studies, but they are generally cautious in giving advice in abstracts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationInformation for a Better World
Subtitle of host publicationShaping the Global Future - 17th International Conference, iConference 2022, Proceedings
EditorsMalte Smits
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media Deutschland GmbH
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)9783030969592
StatePublished - 2022
Event17th International Conference on Information for a Better World: Shaping the Global Future, iConference 2022 - Virtual, Online
Duration: Feb 28 2022Mar 4 2022

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume13193 LNCS
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Conference17th International Conference on Information for a Better World: Shaping the Global Future, iConference 2022
CityVirtual, Online


  • Content analysis
  • Health advice
  • Medical research literature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • General Computer Science


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