Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Misleading Statistical Information in Ads: A Drug Ad Analyzed and Related Evaluation Resources

An Epidemic of Bad Infographics: Depression

http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2011/06/29/an-epidemic-of-bad-infographics-depression/

Do some statistically laden advertisements and Web sites seem misleading? Is there a disconnect between the displayed data in some ads with your gut feelings?  But you just cannot put your finger on why you feel distrustful?

Just plain sloppily represented infographics could be creating some of the confusion. Infographic combines an interesting graphical element with hard data. They are commonly seen in the media, including USA Today.

John Grohol, founder and editor-in-chief of Psych Central, deftly illustrates how to analyze a medical advertisement for misleading information (and downright errors!) in a recent blog item.

Here are some excerpts from An Epidemic of Bad Infograhics: Depression

In an effort to keep trying to get people’s attention in an increasingly attention-deficit world, we get a lot of inquiries for links to websites promoting education programs and other affiliate websites. The latest effort is focused around “infographics,” those graphics made popular by the USA Todaynewspaper that combines an interesting graphical element with hard data. A well done infographic ostensibly makes data more engaging. A fantastic infographic puts data into proper perspective and gives it valuable context.

What these marketing firms send me, however, are not fantastic or even well-done. So in the interests of demonstrating that any infographic can be worse than no infographic, I’m going to critique one of the latest ones to have come across my desk. It’s about depression, one of the most common and serious mental disorders….

….

Depression LevelsWhat about your level of depression? Well, according to the infographic — but not the research or mental health professionals — you can have different “depression levels” ranging from “Normal” (what’s a “Normal” depression?) to “Situational” or even “Major.”

Of course, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (the DSM-IV) doesn’t divide major depression in this manner. Instead, it specifies that major depression can be Mild, Moderate, Severe without Psychotic Features, Severe with Psychotic Features, In Partial Remission, In Full Remission, or Chronic.

I assume “Situational” refers to a completely different mental disorder — Adjustment Disorder with Depressed Mood. The person designing this graphic was obviously not too familiar with the actual information he was asked to illustrate……

Related Health Information Evaluation Resources

    • What to look for when reading medical research outlines the different types  of scientific studies and which ones are the best
    • Participating organizations  provides links to news items from over 25 publishers and organizations. “The publishers allow readers following links from patientINFORM material on the health organizations’ sites to access the full text of these articles without a subscription, and they provide patients and caregivers with free or reduced-fee access to other articles in participating journals.”

Related Statistics Resources

  • Guide to Biostatistics (MedPage Today) is a bit technical, but a good introduction to biostatistical terms used in medical research 

 

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June 30, 2011 - Posted by | health AND statistics, Health Education (General Public), statistics | , , , , , ,

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