Anyone who has covered medical research for a while knows how fraught it can be to report on vitamin supplements and “wonder” foods with antioxidants and other substances aside from FDA-regulated drugs.
Since the FDA does not regulate these products with the same guidelines and stringency as it does pharmaceuticals and medical devices, it can be harder to find solid data about them. Further, studies on them are frequently funded by supplement companies or food organizations with a vested interest in their effectiveness or benefits. In an additional complication, there’s a mythology surrounding vitamins that promotes two main ideas: the supplements almost always are beneficial, and even if they aren’t, can’t hurt anyway. Continue reading
The intersection of scientific research, evidence and expertise can be a dicey one, particularly in an age in which evidence-based medicine is replacing the clinical expertise of practitioners.
In The New York Times Sunday Review, Jamie Holmes wrote about how the challenge of assessing the quality of evidence against expertise and less stringently conducted research can lead readers to confusion and frustration. Continue reading
The new year heralds a new administration and much uncertainty about what lies ahead for older adults’ health care. There are threats (or promises) to privatize Medicare, cut elder-friendly programs such as the SNAP supplemental nutrition program, revamp Social Security, eliminate CMS demo programs and more.
From science to community-based care, here are some issues to put on your beat’s radar for 2017: Continue reading
As we get ready to gear up for what is sure to be a year full of health-related news, it’s a good time to look back at what was in the headlines in the past year.
Here is a review of the most-read posts on Covering Health that were published in 2016: Continue reading
Just one in every six new stories about medical research contained independent comments from someone besides the study authors — and a quarter of them did not have the relevant clinical or academic expertise to be commenting on the research. Further, just over half of those commenters had relevant conflicts of interest, but only half were reported in the news article. Those are the findings of a sobering, though unsurprising, new study that reveals just how much news consumers suffer from a dearth of high-quality reporting on medical research.
In plainer terms, health journalists need to be doing a better job when reporting on medical research. Continue reading