Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

‘The View’, Jenny McCarthy, and a public health nightmare

You Think You Know

There’s been a lot in the news recently about the decision to hire Jenny McCarthy to replace Elizabeth Hasselback on “The View”.  I cant say that I’m particularly sad to see Hasselback go, as I was never a fan of her conservative “values” but the hiring of Jenny McCarthy – as has been pointed out by many – amounts to a public health nightmare.

For those of you who don’t know, McCarthy is a staunch believer that vaccines caused her son to have autism.  Furthermore, she is an outspoken advocate for not vaccinating children and both encourages and supports parents who choose not to do so.  McCarthy is a strong supporter of UK physician Andrew Wakefield, who published a study in 1998 showing that the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine causes autism.  That very study has been discredited as a fraud, and follow up studies have disproved Wakefield’s claim.  Despite…

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July 22, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, health care | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Grasping and even celebrating uncertainty ( How Journalists Can Aid Critical Thinking in Healthcare Decisions) With Resources By Yours Truly

As you regular followers of this blog realize, I champion critical thinking and hope at least some of these blog posts have fostered this approach to selecting what is best for one’s health.
Many of my posts caution against quick fixes, be it fad diets, supplement dependence, or use of potentially harmful complementary medicine substances. To be fair, I have also posted items questioning “Western medicine” practices as when robotic surgery is appropriate.

Gary Schwitzer at HealthNewsReview.org has posted yet another item on how journalists can help us all in healthcare decisions..
Excerpts

Marya Zilberberg posted, “Fast science: No time for uncertainty.”  Excerpt:

“…my anxiety about how we do clinical science overall is not new; this blog is overrun with it. However, the new branch of that anxiety relates to something I have termed “fast science.” Like fast food it fills us up, but the calories are at best empty and at worst detrimental. What I mean is that science is a process more than it is a result, and this process cannot and should not be microwaved….

So, let’s celebrate uncertainty. Let’s take time to question, answer and question again. Slow down, take a deep breath, cook a slow meal and think.”

That’s similar to how I ended my talk at the University of Wisconsin’s event, “Science Writing in the Age of Denial” this week.  I said that:

“Journalists could help people grasp uncertainty and help them apply critical thinking to health care decision-making issues…rather than promote false certainty, shibboleths and non-evidence-based, cheerleading advocacy.”

Related Resources (from my Health/Medical  News & Resources Web site)
  • The Penn State Medical Center Library has a great guide to evaluate health information on the Internet.

    The tips include

    • Remember, anyone can publish information on the internet!
    • If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
      If the Web site is primarily about selling a product, the information may be worth checking from another source.
    • Look for who is publishing the information and their education, credentials, and if they are connected with a trusted coporation, university or agency.
    • Check to see how current the information is.
    • Check for accuracy. Does the Web site refer to specific studies or organizations?
  • The Family Caregiver Alliance has a Web page entitled Evaluating Medical Research Findings and Clinical Trials

Topics include

    • General Guidelines for Evaluating Medical Research
    • Getting Information from the Web
    • Talking with your Health Care Provider

And a Rumor Control site of Note (in addition to Quackwatch)

National Council Against Health Fraud

National Council Against Health Fraud is a nonprofit health agency fousing on health misinformation, fruad, and quackery as public health problems. Links to publications, position papers and more.

May 1, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Health Education (General Public) | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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