Tip sheet offers guidance on reading and making sense of scientific studies

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: iT@c via Flickr

Of all the skills needed for reporting on medical research, it’s hard to think of one more important than being able to read and understand a single medical study. That may sound obvious, but a surprising number of journalists find their way to covering research findings before they have learned how to read the research papers themselves. (I once was one of them!)

I usually give a talk reviewing the basics of this task at the AHCJ conference each year, but this year’s conference unfortunately was among the large meeting casualties of the pandemic. Regardless, learning to read scientific studies is one of those skills where you get better at it the more you try to do it yourself and the more you hear from different people about how they do it. Continue reading

Tip sheet provides pointers on concussion-related testing and other concussion research resources

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: Courteney via Flickr

Photo: Courteney via Flickr

In what seems to be an eternity ago, I wrote about a pair of studies on concussions for Scientific American. The 2013 piece was interesting to write because it covered two studies whose combined findings revealed as much about the gaps in concussion research as they did clinically useful findings.

A few years after that, I wrote about a panel at the 2016 Health Journalism conference on sports concussions that highlighted some of the questions journalists need to consider when writing about this often contentious research. Continue reading

Staffing levels, not just hotspots, can predict nursing home COVID deaths, study says

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

Photo: Zeev Barkan via Flickr

Since the first COVID-19 outbreak in a Seattle-area nursing home in February, at least 55,000 deaths, more than 42% of the U.S. total, have been linked to nursing homes, assisted living and other long-term care facilities as of July 7, according to a national database compiled by The New York Times.

Now a new academic study supports what many already suspected: residents of long-term care facilities with lower nurse staffing levels, poorer quality scores, and higher concentrations of disadvantaged residents suffer from higher rates of confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths. Continue reading

Resources for responsibly reporting on supplements during the pandemic

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: Special via Flickr

One of the biggest challenges of covering the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic has been the proliferation of inaccurate information. That includes misinformation, propaganda, disinformation, conspiracy theories and, most pernicious of all, fake cures and treatments.

Some of the misinformation about substances that supposedly can treat COVID-19 is downright harmful, such as bleach or colloidal silver. The problem is so bad that the U.S Food and Drug Administration began issuing warning letters to multiple companies in early March to stop selling products that they said were fraudulently claiming could be used against coronavirus infections. Continue reading

Study shows common acid suppressants may increase dementia risk

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

Photo: Dan Lingard via Flickr

Millions of people around the world take acid suppressants called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) for conditions like heartburn, gastritis and stomach ulcers. Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden now report that long-term use of these drugs could increase the risk of developing dementia. Continue reading

Membership selects new board members for 2020-21

Len Bruzzese

About Len Bruzzese

Len Bruzzese is the executive director of AHCJ and its Center for Excellence in Health Care Journalism. He also is an associate professor at the Missouri School of Journalism and served for nearly 20 years in daily journalism.

Joyce Frieden, Washington editor at MedPage Today, and Keren Landman, M.D., a freelance journalist based in Atlanta, join four incumbents in being seated on the Association of Health Care Journalists’ 2020-21 board of directors.

Incumbents starting a new term include Carrie Feibel, senior editor of the Science Desk at NPR; Tony Leys, health care reporter at the Des Moines Register; Ivan Oransky, M.D., vice president of editorial for Medscape; and Sabriya Rice, Knight chair in health and medical journalism at the University of Georgia.

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