Saturday, June 14, 2008

An early clinical trial with N=2

In the late 18th century, King Gustav III of Sweden decided that coffee was poison and ordered a clinical trial.
  • The King condemned a convicted murderer to drink coffee every day.
  • The control was another murderer who was condemned to drink tea daily.
  • The outcome measure is 'death'.
  • Two physicians were appointed to determine the outcome.

  • The two doctors died first
  • The king was murdered
  • Both convicts enjoyed long life until the tea drinker died at age 83. (no age was given for the coffee drinker)

J Int Med. Oct 1991:289 - introduction to editorial from Nordic School of Public Health, Goteborg Sweden

Reprinted in Annal of Internal Medicine 1992: 117:30

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