Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[Reblog] Misleading BMJ news releases may be one reason journalists report on more observational studies

From the 24 January 2014 post at TheHealthNewsReview Blog  by Gary Schwitzer

[At least 16 comments on this post, click on the link above to read them]

Just a few days ago, a paper in the journal PLoS One, “Media Coverage of Medical Journals: Do the Best Articles Make the News?” showed how journalists are more likely to report on observational studies than on randomized clinical trials.  The authors suggest this shows a systematic bias to report on weaker evidence.

And here’s one reason why that may happen.

This week the BMJ sent out a news release on a paper from the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, one of the specialist journals it publishes. And I’ve been waiting for days to address it – waiting for the journal’s embargo time to pass so that I’m not violating that sacred trust.

The headline of the news release:  HRT cuts risk of repeat knee/hip replacement surgery by 40%.

 

Nope.  Sorry, BMJ news release writers.  That’s an overstatement, to be kind.  An inaccuracy, to be accurate. That’s not what the study showed, because it wasn’t equipped to show that anything “cut risk.”  Proof of cutting risk would be proof of cause and effect.  And the observational study in question can’t do that.

Don’t blame the authors of the journal article. They didn’t use cause-and-effect language.  They concluded: “HRT is associated with an almost 40% reduction.”  (My emphasis added.) That’s the way you describe the results of an observational study. That’s what we try to teach journalists and the public with a primer that’s been on our site for years. Maybe the BMJ should have its news release writers read it.

The researchers went even further, for any writer – journal news release writers included – who bothered to read the study.  The research team wrote: “The main limitation of this study is its observational nature.”

To be clear, this was a large study with long followup.  This could be a head-turner in medical circles.

But it still is what it is – a study that can only show statistical association.

And association ≠ causation.

We’ve written about this problem with BMJ news releases in the past, and will continue to do so until they get it right.  Past examples:

As I wrote in one of these posts:  Journals could help lift all ships – or they can (and sometimes do) help us all drown in a daily tsunami of global miscommunication about health news.

 

 

 

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January 28, 2014 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] News coverage of peanut butter Alzheimer’s test doesn’t stick

Studying Alzheimer's disease at the APS

Studying Alzheimer’s disease at the APS (Photo credit: Argonne National Laboratory)

 

From the 14 October 2013 HealthNewsReview.org item

 

CBS News online actually asked whether a scoop of peanut butter and a ruler could become the “elusive”…”single..definitive test” that could determine whether a person has Alzheimer’s disease.

I was away when this was published, but Ivan Oransky was all over it on MedPageToday.com.  Excerpts of his analysis:

Reading CBS News’s headline, “Cheap Alzheimer’s Test Made From Peanut Butter and Ruler, Researchers Report,” reminded me of the old adage “Fast, good, or cheap: Pick two.”

A couple things made me wonder just how much of an advance this was:

  • The study was small, fewer than 100 people all together, divided into four groups ranging from probable Alzheimer’s to healthy controls.
  • The journal — which is not exactly a core clinical title — is ranked in the bottom third of neuroscience journals by Thomson Scientific’s impact factor, 162 out of 252. Wouldn’t the researchers have tried for a more prestigious, and clinical, journal first?

So we asked a range of Alzheimer’s researchers what they thought. Here’s a sampling:

Richard Caselli, MD, of the Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale: “I don’t think anyone will feel comfortable diagnosing AD on the basis of a smell test.”

Samuel Gandy, of Mount Sinai School of Medicine: “Smell tests for dementia screening have been proposed for years, but the lack of specificity has repeatedly undone the early claims. Ditto for eye tests. This might be the exception, but I would urge caution pending independent replication on larger numbers and diversities of subjects.”

George Bartzokis, MD, UCLA: “Do not dismiss the study. What is new here is simply what they used to test it out — peanut butter. The principal problem with smell tests is that they are nonspecific and therefore only one small piece of the diagnostic puzzle. Not only can you have some congestion in your nasal cavities that can reduce your smell on a temporary basis but a past head trauma, severe past sinus infections, etc. can do so on a permanent basis. Individuals may not even remember these past events or be aware of current sinus problems that could interfere with their ability to smell.”

I wouldn’t suggest that anyone dismiss the study. But I would suggest that they dismiss much of the news coverage of the study.  Sampling of other headlines:

But the NPR Shots blog headlined it,  Why A Peanut Butter Test For Alzheimer’s Might Be Too Simple.

 

 

 

 

October 22, 2013 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , | Leave a comment

The State of Health Journalism in the U.S., March 2009 (old but still true)

“When I started, we had a stand-alone science/health section
and several people covering various aspects of the beat—health
policy/insurance, consumer health, and biosciences. Now
there’s only one person left with any medical journalism
training and that person is covering higher education.”

–15-year newspaper reporter laid off in 2008

 

“The pressure to produce from my editor blunts your ambition
because you know if you have a choice of a story you can turn
around in a week as opposed to one that may take 2- 3 times
as long, you have to juggle. You make choices based on the
stories you choose not to pursue. And that’s where readers
come out losers. That’s particularly true on health policy
and insurance. How ambitious am I going to be on this
story? Do I feel encouraged to do this kind of reporting
or” not? Those are dilemmas I face regularly.

–Major-market newspaper reporter

 

From the summary

This report provides a snapshot of the current state of health journalism in the U.S. today. It is based on a literature review of more than 100 published pieces of research on health journalism; on a survey of members of the Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ), conducted by the Foundation and AHCJ; and on informal one-on-one interviews conducted by the author of this report with more than 50 journalists who work (or worked) for newspapers, radio and TV stations, magazines, and Web sites in small and large markets.

Excerpts from the report

The cuts in budget and personnel that so many newsrooms are facing contribute to several troubling trends in the content of health journalism:

  •  An emphasis on stories that can be produced quickly—often meaning more stories on medical studies, and sometimes sacrificing on quality.
  •  Fewer in-depth or complex stories, especially about health policy, and more “hyper-local” stories along with stories variously described as lifestyle, consumer, or news-you-can-use.
  • Reliance on stories produced and syndicated elsewhere, by non-traditional news sources.
  • The influence of commercial interests on health news, through video news releases (VNRs), sponsored news segments, free syndicated news segments from health providers, and the influence of PR firms steering the news.

    [Janice’s note…I am thinking of local hospitals who provide articles and interviews on the latest (expensive) procedures to the local media. Yes, hospitals are commercial interests. Seldom do these articles or interviews go into details about evidence, cost, or appropriateness.]

……….

There is an undeniably widespread trend in TV news—often in health news—to label
as news some content which has been provided by industry sources who covet publicity in news programming. This practice takes several forms:

  • Video news releases (VNRs) – produced and distributed by those promoting a product or cause. They are produced to look exactly like high-quality TV news packages. They are usually supplied on videotape or via satellite feed along with a script so that stations can put their own reporter’s face and voice on the story.
  • Sponsored health news – usually paid for by a local medical center and featuring professionals from that medical center. The fact that these segments are paid for, and that they include only certain perspectives, is usually not disclosed.
  • Free news segments from health providers – produced by medical centers, featuring only professionals from that organization.

“My biggest challenge? …Trying to figure who’s paying for what
pitch, who’s paying for what health campaign. There’s dollars
attached to everything.”

–Veteran reporter

 

What’s a reader to do? Start by reading articles thoughtfully. Look for clues for completeness, strength of evidence, conflicts of interest, and authorship.

A few good resources on how to analyze medical and health news stories.

 

January 2, 2013 Posted by | Health Education (General Public) | , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Curēus, an open-access medical journal with crowdsourcing

[Reblog] Curēus, an open-access medical journal with crowdsourcing December 23, 2012

Posted by Dr. Bertalan Meskó in MedicineWeb 2.0Medical journalism,Medicine 2.0e-Science.
trackback
John Adler who is a neurosurgeon at Stanford just launched Curēus, an open-source medical journal that leverages crowdsourcing to make scientific research more readily available to the general public. What do you think?

Based in Palo Alto, California, Curēus is the medical journal for a new generation of both doctors AND patients. Leveraging the power of an online, crowd-sourced community platform, Curēus promotes medical research by offering tools that better serve and highlight the people who create it, resulting in better research, faster publication and easier access for everyone.

We make it easier and faster to publish your work – it’s always free and you retain the copyright. What’s more, the Curēus platform is designed to provide a place for physicians to build their digital CV anchored with their posters and papers.

The Curēus site also has..

Currently, a relatively few number of papers online. The concept is good, here’s hoping this is not a flash in the pan, but the wave of the future.

December 27, 2012 Posted by | Biomedical Research Resources, Educational Resources (Health Professionals), Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Finding Aids/Directories, Health Education (General Public), Librarian Resources | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[HealthNewsReview.Org Weekly Digest item] – Scientific Conference News Caveat

Those of you who read my posts regularly know one of my themes is to read scientific and medical news items carefully with an eye to interpreting them objectively. *

Here are some excerpts from the 12 November 2012 HealthNewsReview.org weekly update

…the cheerleaders of health care journalism often rush to publish news from scientific conferences that is not ready for prime time – at least not without caveats and context. So that explains our post this week:

An important reminder – for journalists and for the general public – appears in the American Heart Association journal Circulation.  The paper is entitled, “The Conversion of Cardiovascular Conference Abstracts to Publications,” and it is published right about the same time as the American Heart Association’s own huge Scientific Sessions wrapped up for 2012.   We wrote earlier about some of our concerns about news coverage from this meeting.

The new journal article provides sound reasons for why our concerns about conference news coverage are sound. The researchers analyzed abstracts presented at the American Heart Association (AHA), American College of Cardiology (ACC), and European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Scientific Sessions from 2006-2008. Then they checked how many were published.

Drum roll, please….

  • Less than one-third of the presented abstracts were published within two years of the conference presentation.
  • After five years, the rates rose a bit to 49.7% for AHA, 42.6% for ACC, and 37.6% for ESC .

So while some journalists are glued to coverage of these meetings, publishing daily for general news audiences that may not understand the nuances of the limitations of drawing conclusions from talks presented at scientific meetings, most of this stuff isn’t even published in the medical literature for at least 5 years – if ever!

Why does this matter?

Such news coverage creates a rose-colored view of progress in research.  It may not be inaccurate but it most certainly misleads and lacks important context if it doesn’t present caveats about the limitations.

Don’t forget the important JAMA paper, “Media Coverage of Scientific Meetings: Too Much, Too Soon?” which concluded:

“Results are frequently presented to the public as scientifically sound evidence rather than as preliminary findings with still uncertain validity. With some effort on the part of meeting organizers, journalists, and scientists, it will be possible to better serve the public.”..

Related articles at HealthNewsReview.org

November 13, 2012 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Scientists, Foundations, Libraries, Universities, and Advocates Unite and Issue New Recommendations to Make Research Freely Available to All Online

 

Those of you who follow my blog know this is one of my passions!

From the press release

September 12, 2012   Information Program

Scientists, Foundations, Libraries, Universities, and Advocates Unite and Issue New Recommendations to Make Research Freely Available to All Online

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 12, 2012

CONTACT: Andrea Higginbotham, SPARC, andrea@arl.org; 202-296-2296

Amy Weil, Open Society Foundations, aweil@sorosny.org; 212-548-0381

WASHINGTON—In response to the growing demand to make research free and available to anyone with a computer and an internet connection, a diverse coalition today issued new recommendations that could usher in huge advances in the sciences, medicine, and health.

The recommendations were developed by leaders of the Open Access movement, which has worked for the past decade to provide the public with unrestricted, free access to scholarly research—much of which is publicly funded. Making the research publicly available to everyone—free of charge and without most copyright and licensing restrictions—will accelerate scientific research efforts and allow authors to reach a larger number of readers…

 

September 17, 2012 Posted by | Biomedical Research Resources | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

FCC seeks to change regulation of corporate interests disclosures on TV news (including local hospital segments on the news)

Those health news segments on the local news might not be as unbiased as they appear!

From the 3 January 2012 Washington Post article by Paul Farhi

V newscasts are increasingly seeded with corporate advertising masquerading as news — and the federal government wants to do something about it.

Concerned that subtle “pay-for-play” marketing ploys are seeping into the news, the Federal Communications Commission has proposed a regulation that would require the nation’s 1,500 commercial TV stations to disclose online the corporate interests behind the news….

“Unless you stick around for the end credits, you’re unlikely to know it’s payola,” said Corie Wright, senior policy counsel for Free Press, a media watchdog group backing the FCC proposal. “If broadcasters were required to put it online, you could check to see if it was actually sponsored or not.”

The proposed regulation is aimed at news programs that appear to viewers to be the work of independent journalists, but in fact sponsors have shaped or even dictated the coverage.

A common form of advertiser-supplied content, documented in a recent Washington Post article, is a live interview segment in which a seemingly neutral reviewer recommends a series of products that the “reviewer” has been paid by sponsors to mention. Stations across the country have also brokered “exclusive” relationships with local hospitals in which the hospitals pay the station to be featured in health stories.  [my emphasis] Other stations have aired “news” programs that feature interviews with sponsors who’ve paid for the privilege.

According to an FCC report, many stations also use “video news releases,” footage produced by a sponsor or corporate interest that looks like it was shot by the station.

Under current law, such arrangements aren’t illegal,

 

February 8, 2012 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Medical journal news releases shouldn’t just try to make news but to make news reporting better

Medical news press releases do strongly affect health/medical news items in the “popular press”.
All the more reason, as this article points out, that these press releases need to be as complete and accurate as possible!

From the 31 Janauary 2012 HealthNewsReview.org*** article

Not to be missed:  last week’s BMJ published an analysis by a team at Dartmouth Medical School led by Steven Woloshin and Lisa Schwartz – “Influence of medical journal press releases on the quality of associated newspaper coverage.”***

This is an important contribution to our understanding of the food chain of the dissemination of research news to the American public:  medical journals feed journalists who feed the American public what they get out of journals – sometimes driven largely by what’s in journal news releases.  If the information at the source is complete and high quality, the flow of information from journalists to the public is more likely to be complete and high quality as well.  But this analysis also suggests that “low quality press releases might make (associated newspaper stories) worse.”

Excerpts:

Higher quality press releases issued by medical journals were associated with higher quality reporting in subsequent newspaper stories. In fact, the influence of press releases on subsequent newspaper stories was generally stronger than that of journal abstracts. Fundamental information such as absolute risks, harms, and limitations was more likely to be reported in newspaper stories when this information appeared in a medical journal press release than when it was missing from the press release or if no press release was issued. Furthermore, our data suggest that poor quality press releases were worse than no press release being issued: fundamental information was less likely to be reported in newspaper stories when it was missing from the press release than where no press release was issued at all (although the findings were generally not statistically significant).

Reporting on medical research is challenging:…

***HealthNewsReview.org is a group of independent professional journalists who review medical stories in newspapers, magazines, etc

Health News Review
Please see my earlier blog posting for a fuller description

***Influence of medical journal press releases on the quality of associated newspaper coverage: retrospective cohort study

  • Source:  British Medical Journal
    Objective
    To determine whether the quality of press releases issued by medical journals can influence the quality of associated newspaper stories.
    Design
    Retrospective cohort study of medical journal press releases and associated news stories.
    Setting
    We reviewed consecutive issues (going backwards from January 2009) of five major medical journals (Annals of Internal Medicine, BMJ, Journal of the National Cancer Institute, JAMA, and New England Journal of Medicine) to identify the first 100 original research articles with quantifiable outcomes and that had generated any newspaper coverage (unique stories ≥100 words long). We identified 759 associated newspaper stories using Lexis Nexis and Factiva searches, and 68 journal press releases using Eurekalert and journal website searches. Two independent research assistants assessed the quality of journal articles, press releases, and a stratified random sample of associated newspaper stories (n=343) by using a structured coding scheme for the presence of specific quality measures: basic study facts, quantification of the main result, harms, and limitations.
    Main outcome
    Proportion of newspaper stories with specific quality measures (adjusted for whether the quality measure was present in the journal article’s abstract or editor note).
    Results
    We recorded a median of three newspaper stories per journal article (range 1-72). Of 343 stories analysed, 71% reported on articles for which medical journals had issued press releases. 9% of stories quantified the main result with absolute risks when this information was not in the press release, 53% did so when it was in the press release (relative risk 6.0, 95% confidence interval 2.3 to 15.4), and 20% when no press release was issued (2.2, 0.83 to 6.1). 133 (39%) stories reported on research describing beneficial interventions. 24% mentioned harms (or specifically declared no harms) when harms were not mentioned in the press release, 68% when mentioned in the press release (2.8, 1.1 to 7.4), and 36% when no press release was issued (1.5, 0.49 to 4.4). 256 (75%) stories reported on research with important limitations. 16% reported any limitations when limitations were not mentioned in the press release, 48% when mentioned in the press release (3.0, 1.5 to 6.2), and 21% if no press release was issued (1.3, 0.50 to 3.6).
    Conclusion
    High quality press releases issued by medical journals seem to make the quality of associated newspaper stories better, whereas low quality press releases might make them worse.

February 8, 2012 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , | Leave a comment

New Federal Policy Initiatives To Boost Health Literacy Can Help The Nation Move Beyond The Cycle Of Costly ‘Crisis Care’ [With Related Resources]

Health literacy used to be thought of as a problem individuals had in understanding health information and making health decisions. Now health literacy is beginning to be viewed in more holistic terms. For example, health care providers (from nurses to institutions) now view themselves as having roles in providing relevant understandable information to patients and the public.
What brought about this change in focus? According to the article below, major health policy initiatives at the federal level, including the “Plain Writing Act of 2010, which requires all new publications, forms, and publicly distributed documents from the federal government to be written in a “clear, concise, well-organized” manner.”

A good summary of this change in direction and focus may be found within the article…
New Federal Policy Initiatives To Boost Health Literacy Can Help The Nation Move Beyond The Cycle Of Costly ‘Crisis Care’

Here is an abstract of the article (in the journal Health Affairs, January 12, 2012)

Health literacy is the capacity to understand basic health information and make appropriate health decisions. Tens of millions of Americans have limited health literacy—a fact that poses major challenges for the delivery of high-quality care. Despite its importance, health literacy has until recently been relegated to the sidelines of health care improvement efforts aimed at increasing access, improving quality, and better managing costs. Recent federal policy initiatives, including the Affordable Care Act of 2010, the Department of Health and Human Services’ National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy, and the Plain Writing Act of 2010, have brought health literacy to a tipping point—that is, poised to make the transition from the margins to the mainstream. If public and private organizations make it a priority to become health literate, the nation’s health literacy can be advanced to the point at which it will play a major role in improving health care and health for all Americans…

In years past, clinicians and researchers alike largely viewed these issues and outcomes in terms of individual patient deficits—that is, a patient’s lack of knowledge and skills regarding health issues. We now recognize that health literacy is a dynamic systems issue,2 reflecting the complexity of both the health information being presented and the health care system being navigated.3 As summarized by the Institute of Medicine, addressing the challenge of health literacy requires system-level changes for both health professionals and organizations…

It is impossible to list all relevant related resources here!
A small sampling..

Health Literacy Library Guides (while aimed at professionals, librarians, etc, some have links to materials for the rest of us)

Great places to start for health information on many topics (diseases, conditions, talking with health care professionals, etc)

(More Great Places here)

  • MedlinePlus – Over 750 topics on conditions, diseases, and wellness.  Information ondrugs, herbs, and supplements. Links to directories (health care providers, health care facilities, etc) and organizations which provider health information. Surgery videos, informative slideshows, and more.
  • Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality – Consumers and Patients
    the latest evidence based information for improving your health, including podcasts and videos
  • Familydoctor.org includes health information for the whole family
    Short generalized information on Diseases and Conditions (with A-Z index), Health Information for Seniors, Men, and Women, Healthy Living Topics, pages geared to Parents & Kids, and videos.  Numerous health tools in the left column (as health trackers, health assessments, and a Search by Symptom page.

  • KidsHealth provides information about health, behavior, and development from before birth through the teen years. Material is written by doctors in understandable language at three levels: parents, kids, and teens
    KidsHealth also provides families with perspective, advice, and comfort about a wide range of physical, emotional, and behavioral issues that affect children and teens.

Understanding Health Research

  • “Summaries for Patients”  are short summaries of studies and clinical guidelines (how medicine is best practiced) are  published in Annals of Internal Medicine.
    [Go to Summaries for Patients, scroll down a little, the right column has  link to all summaries and a search box ]Summaries about studies describe how researchers did the published study and what they found.
    Summaries about clinical guidelines describe the official recommendations for patient care
  • patientINFORM plain language summary Web sites are provided by participating publishers to help patients or their caregivers more fully understand the implications of research and to provide links to the full text of research articles they’ve selected from participating journals. 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.
  • Cochrane Collaboration provides systematic reviews (thorough summaries) of the strongest evidence available about healthcare interventions (as drugs and medical procedures).  It does not cover all interventions, but those covered were reviewed  in-depth by experts in the medical and library fields.
    • Here is how to find plain language  and audio summaries of Cochrane reviewsGo to the Cochrane Collaboration home page and scroll down to Browse Free Summaries.
      Topics include Breast Cancer, Dementia and Cognitive Improvement, and Complementary Medicine.
      Click on To the Cochrane Library in the upper right corner of the Cochrance Collaboration home page.
      This Cochrane Library search page has a Help page , and an Advanced Search option.
  • HealthNewsReview.org – Independent Expert Reviews of News Stories
    The site is dedicated to

    • Improving the accuracy of news stories about medical treatments, tests, products and procedures.
    • Helping consumers evaluate the evidence for and against new ideas in health care.

Health News Review includes

January 28, 2012 Posted by | Finding Aids/Directories, Librarian Resources | , , , , , | 1 Comment

HealthNewsReview.org – Independent Expert Reviews of News Stories

Health News Review

HealthNewsReview.org – Independent Expert Reviews of News Stories

Health News Review includes reviews of health articles in the news.Their objective criteria includes these factors…

The Web site also includes a toolkit – “a number of tipsheets, primers, links and other resources to help journalists and consumers do a better job of evaluating claims about health care interventions”

From their About Page

HealthNewsReview.org is a website dedicated to:

  • Improving the accuracy of news stories about medical treatments, tests, products and procedures.
  • Helping consumers evaluate the evidence for and against new ideas in health care.

We support and encourage the ABCs of health journalism.

  • Accuracy
  • Balance
  • Completeness
Related Resources
How to Read a Research Paper (and also Understand Health News Research Items) (jflahiff.wordpress.com)
patientInform
 “The goal of patientINFORM is to allow patients, their family members and anyone interested in learning more about a specific disease or its treatment to access the most important new research articles through the web sites ofparticipating health organizations or publishers. Participating health organizations provide interpretation of research articles, in the form of summaries or news items written to be understood by nonphysician, nonscientist readers..
Understanding medical research (MedlinePlus) – links to overviews, related issues, and information from organizations
Related articles

 

December 31, 2011 Posted by | Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Health Education (General Public) | , , , , , | Leave a comment

It is a rare medical story that gets high marks

Home page illustrating latest story reviews an...

Image via Wikipedia

From a September 2011 article at KevinMD.com

Like you, I receive a whole bunch of breaking medical news every day, from television, radio, newspapers, direct mail, email alerts, press releases, and multiple websites.

Is any of it worth my time, my attention, or even a change in my knowledge, attitude, behavior, or medical practice? How can I quickly tell?

A medical journalist from Minnesota named Gary Schwitzer recognized this problem many years ago and created a service that will help all of us, in and outside of medicine and medical journalism, to spend our time and direct our attention wisely.

 

Schwitzer’s service is called Health News Review and widely publicizes a set of criteria to apply to medical stories reported in the popular media.

While his approach cannot prevent fraud, liars, and fabricators, a careful use of his criteria can help the reader filter out what is likely to be real junk, or even worse, harmful.

Medical Reporting Rules to live (or die) by:

  1. How available is the treatment/test/product/procedure to the likely reader/viewer/listener at the time of the report?
  2. What is the cost or charge for the test/treatment/product or procedure mentioned in the story? To the patient? The insurance company? The government?
  3. Is there evidence of disease mongering in the story? Does it oversell or exaggerate a condition or create unwarranted fear?
  4. Does the story seem to grasp and convey the quality of the evidence supporting the basis for the study?
  5. Does the article provide appropriate balance about harms that might be caused by the treatment/test/product/procedure that constitutes the basis for the story?
  6. Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach? Much that is purported to be new, really is not.
  7. How does the story frame the relative quantitative value of a new treatment, test, product, or procedure and place the benefits in context with others, especially dealing with absolute and relative values?
  8. Did the author and editor of the medical news story rely solely or largely on a press release or did they also seek and quote other sources?
  9. Was there an independent source and were any possible conflicts of interests of sources disclosed in the article?
  10. Does the story provide the context of treatment/test/product/procedure other than those that are being reported?

October 15, 2011 Posted by | Health News Items | , , | Leave a comment

   

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