Compare the use of research in a commercially marketed treatment programme with a critique using standard methods for evaluating research evidence.
Research links from the Dore website
A page of selected results showing improvements in pupil’s scores for reading, SATs and attention symptoms. University and Education Authority studies are cited. In particular, papers published in Dyslexia, a peer reviewed journal, add credence to the claim that
“At Dore we are totally committed to researching the causes of learning difficulties and finding the best and most accessible way of eradicating them.”
The Balsall Common Study
by Dr Roy Rutherford
Medical and Research Director DDAT (Dore) Centres UK
Reynolds 2003 pub Dyslexia
Reynolds 2006 pub Dyslexia
Dyslexia (requires subscription)
If you were reliant only on the Dore account the selected research findings are persuasive. You might conclude that the treatment programme is worth £2,000. And that it ‘cures dyslexia’.
Fortunately we have Ben Goldacre’s commentary to read in conjunction with the Dore claims.
On the 2003 publication in Dyslexia a
“paper so flawed (even before it was subsequently misrepresented in the media) that it prompted an unprecedented number of critical commentaries – nine – to be published in the journal Dyslexia.
These commentaries pointed out that the subjects were not randomised – the experimenters could choose whether to put each child in the treatment group or the control group, and the two groups were mismatched in a way that could have advantaged the Dore treatment. The control group’s treatment was “nothing”, which was bound to produce an unfavourable result, compared with the attention lavished on children having the Dore treatment. Progress was measured, bizarrely, with screening tools rather than well validated tests, as we shall see later. The statistics were flawed. The details of the treatment were explicitly withheld because it was “commercially sensitive”. The evaluators were not blinded. And so on.”
On the 2006 paper
“29 children were followed up in this study, and only 8 of those had a diagnosis of dyslexia or dyspraxia. Some were, in fact, reading very well – up to 22 months ahead of their reading age! – before the treatment started. If she’d read the study carefully she might have flagged up some other flaws in it.
There was no control group this time, all the children had the Dore miracle cure, so there’s no way of knowing if the improvements were due to Dore or some other factors (the passage of time, or the non-specific effects of receiving extra input and attention from the Dore program, and so on).
The childrens’ progress was again measured with the “Dyslexia Screening Tool”, an odd choice: and gains were not made in reading, spelling, and writing, in the DST, but were made in bead threading, balance, and rapid naming. DST is a screening test, not something you’d use for repeated measures of development, and these improvements could reflect, for example, practise at doing the test (this is why we like control groups).”