Scientists published a fake study about mothers kissing their kids' 'boo-boos'

Mother and babyFlickr/oksidorDoes kissing a boo-boo really make it better?

In December, researchers published a made-up study of how effective a mother’s kisses are at relieving a child’s cuts and scrapes.

The study, which was entitled, “Maternal kisses are not effective in alleviating minor childhood injuries (boo-boos): a randomised, controlled and blinded study,” was published in the Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice.

And it caused quite a buzz on Twitter:

Some people wryly pointed out that the study didn’t measure fathers’ kisses:

The ‘SMACK’ study

The study, which was supposedly led by the Study of Maternal and Child Kissing (SMACK) Working Group, involved 943 toddlers and their mums.

According to Discover Magazine, the study’s methods included placing a piece of chocolate under a low table where a toddler could crawl toward it. The child would then supposedly stand up and hit his or her head on the table, causing a mild injury.

Another experiment involved placing a stuffed animal on a counter behind a heated coil, which the toddler would burn his or herself on when reaching for it.

These injuries were jokingly measured using the “Toddler Discomfort Index (TDI).” One group of toddlers received a kiss from their mother, while other groups received no kiss or a “sham” kiss from someone who wasn’t their mother.

The authors reported no significant difference in discomfort level between the maternal and sham kiss groups. “The practice of maternal kissing of boo-boos is not supported by the evidence and we recommend a moratorium on the practice,” they concluded.

Making fun of medical research

The study was meant to be a satirical look at the limitations of randomised controlled trials, the gold standard of medical research.

These studies involve randomly assigning participants to two groups — one that receives treatment (the experimental group) and one that doesn’t (the control group) — to measure how effective the treatment is.

Some doctors say the emphasis on randomised controlled trials don’t take into account anecdotal evidence and the experience of medical experts.

But some people thought the phony study might be misleading, and should be labelled as a joke.

The kissing study isn’t the only spoof study of its kind. The BMJ publishes a satirical Christmas edition, which has included studies such as one that found that there were more men with mustaches than women among medical leaders.

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