Assay sensitivity

Assay sensitivity refers to the capacity of a study to show that the units of observation (e.g. patients, subjects, or plants for that matter) entered into that study are affected by the treatments applied. For Model and Houde, the proof of a study's assay sensitivity lies in its capacity to distinguish a test substance from an inert one, and different levels of the test substance from one another. These capacities, importantly, are not evaluated to confirm the fact that the drug being used as a standard control is an effective drug, but to ensure that the sample of patients admitted to the study have a capacity to respond to pharmacological treatments of the class being investigated. If such a precaution is not taken, one might mistakenly conclude from a failure to find a between-group difference in a comparative study of the analgesic effects of sugar water and morphine conducted in patients with mild dental pain that sugar water and morphine are equally potent analgesics.

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