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Watch for these four red flags when reporting on medical studies

Tara HaelleDeciding whether to report on a clinical trial or other medical study requires considering factors that range from the study’s news value to the strengths and weaknesses of the study itself. The former is far easier for journalists to determine than the latter.

This tip sheet is the first in a series pointing out red flags that journalists should watch for in the studies they cover. Seeing one in a study doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be covered. In fact, sometimes a study with a lot of red flags is worth covering if it has strong news value but runs the risk of being misinterpreted in other articles. In that case, covering it may present an opportunity to ensure an accurate representation of the study, its limitations and implications compared with other coverage that may or may not cover it so judiciously.

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