Journalists are in love with reporting new findings about a disease and a particular risk factor, but they are not so keen on following what happens later and reporting on whether the finding was replicated – and just over half the time is later disproved.
With thousands of medical studies published every day, it’s impossible to cover even 1 percent of them. When you can only choose a tiny fraction of studies to cover — particularly if you freelance or your editor gives you some autonomy and flexibility in this area — how do you decide whether or not to cover a study?
Reasons can vary: Some people focus on the better known “more prestigious” journals, although that approach has its drawbacks. 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
When it comes to social determinants and health, gender is one of the uncontrollable risk factors that can impact health. And while science still is exploring the extent of this impact, Consumer Reports recently examined six areas where differences have more clearly emerged.
These areas – colon cancer, heart attack, depression, smoking cessation, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases – not only can have gender-specific symptoms but increasingly can benefit from more tailored care (including medication), according to Consumer Reports’ November On Health newsletter. Researchers also have begun to explore how gender affects pain and opioid use, it reported. Continue reading
Winners of the 2016 AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Awards included science journalist Christie Aschwanden of FiveThirtyEight, who received the Silver Award in the online category for a three-part series that every health journalist would do well to read, reread and bookmark.
We previously praised how well she described p-hacking, study biases and other important concepts in understanding research for the first story, “Science Isn’t Broken.” Her second piece, “You Can’t Trust What You Read About Nutrition,” was mentioned in a John Oliver show that we also featured. It used the absurdity of a link found in one study between eating cabbage and having an innie belly button to illustrate potential problems in observational studies about nutrition. Continue reading