Developing a structured question that can be answered requires practice. An example of a useless question would be, "Are diets any good in eczema?". A better question, generated from a real clinical encounter, would be, "In children with established moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis, how effective is a dairy-free diet compared with standard treatment in inducing and maintaining a remission?". Such a question includes four key elements:
1. the patient population one wishes to generalise to
2. the intervention
3. its comparator
4. the outcomes that might make you change your practice.21
Unless one uses such a structure, it would be easy to waste time discussing and searching for data on the role of diets in preventing atopic disease, the effects of dietary supplements such as fish oil, studies that evaluate only short-term clinical signs, and those that deal with a "rag bag" of different types of eczema in adults and children. Rzany discusses further examples of framing answerable questions in more detail in Chapter 5.
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