Category Archives: Covering medical studies

Have you earned your PubMed black belt?

Tara Haelle

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

Photo: Spirit-Fire via Flickr

Photo: Spirit-Fire via Flickr

It’s just about impossible to report on medical research without becoming intimately familiar with PubMed. But just because a reporter uses the database site doesn’t mean they’re getting the most out of it.

How often have you used a service, such as an email client or a social media site, for years when someone suddenly points out to you a shortcut or a feature you’ve never used and didn’t know existed? Chances are  that there’s at least one new skill you can pick up in Hilda Bastian’s tip sheet on using PubMed. Continue reading

Facts vs. opinions: Beware of false balance in your reporting

Tara Haelle

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

scalesIt is a journalist’s job to objectively and fairly represent the various perspectives on an issue, and it’s a journalist’s responsibility to report facts to represent an issue as accurately as possible.

What happens when these two ethical obligations appear to conflict? Ideally, the seasoned journalist takes a step back to assess how the facts influence the balance a story should receive. When this doesn’t happen, a story runs the risk of having false balance — something even stories relying on scientific evidence (sometimes especially stories relying on scientific evidence) can fall victim to. Continue reading

Trade group’s dispute with FDA highlights need to watch for report revisions

Joseph Burns

About Joseph Burns

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance. He welcomes questions and suggestions on insurance resources and tip sheets at joseph@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: Lori Greig via Flickr

Photo: Lori Greig via Flickr

The nation’s clinical laboratories have pushed back hard against a proposal by U.S. Food and Drug Administration in October 2014 that would regulate laboratory developed tests. More than a year later, the disagreement became more heated when the Association of Molecular Pathology (AMP) accused the FDA of fabricating examples in a November report on LDTs.

In the report, “The Public Health Evidence for FDA Oversight of Laboratory Developed Tests: 20 Case Studies,” the agency cited 20 examples of problematic LDTs, saying, “…these products may have caused or have caused actual harm to patients.” We covered this report in a blog post earlier this month.

But that’s just the beginning of the story, as Allison Proffitt, editorial director of BioITWorld, found. Continue reading

Obesity research: What to know and making sense of studies

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates social media efforts of AHCJ and assists with the editing and production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

obesity-webcastCalling obesity an “epidemic” is almost a cliche in health reporting, but there is no question that obesity is linked to many serious health issues and quality of life, and obesity incidence has been increasing.

That reality has led to even more medical research into its causes, its treatment and management and the conditions obesity increases the risk of experiencing.

In a Jan. 13 webcast, obesity expert and physician Yoni Freedhoff will provide an overview of the state of obesity research and explain what reporters need to know and look for in medical research about obesity.

With Tara Haelle, AHCJ’s core topic leader on medical studies, Freedhoff will explain what we know, how to cut through hype, how to spot less evidence-based claims, and how to talk about the issue in a respectful way. Find out how to participate.

Retraction Watch offers some transparency about transparency

Tara Haelle

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

Photo: katie chao and ben muessig via Flickr

Photo: katie chao and ben muessig via Flickr

In the years since its inception, Retraction Watch has documented hundreds of troubled scientific papers that were eventually retracted, as well as other related controversies. Founders Ivan Oransky and Adam Marcus have learned a lot in that time about following up on retractions, errors or other problematic aspects of scientific research.

Two years ago, they thought they had come up with some good advice for others who wanted to investigate concerns about a particular paper and published a piece on how to report alleged scientific misconduct in Lab Times. Continue reading