Author Archives: Tara Haelle

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.

Elsevier webinar to discuss impact of outbreaks on infectious disease research

Transmission electron micrograph of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, isolated from a patient.

Photo: NIAID via FlickrTransmission electron micrograph of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, isolated from a patient.

COVID-19 might be the biggest pandemic the world has seen in a century, but it’s not the first major pandemic or epidemic. Ebola, H1N1 influenza, SARS, MERS and Zika all have rocked the news cycle in recent years, with long-lasting ramifications on global health, infrastructure and economies in the 21st century. The disease that develops from the SARS-CoV-2 virus won’t be the last, or possibly even the biggest to come.

During such epidemics, scientific research has been published in a rapid flurry. As on-the-ground, immediately clinically relevant research is published, other researchers look to the past — digging into the pathogen’s etiology — while others steadfastly focus on the future to develop treatments and vaccines. Continue reading

Finding the latest COVID-19 studies — and covering them thoughtfully

In the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, most data came from news reports, clinical summaries and preprints. Now more and more peer-reviewed studies are coming out each day, and it’s challenging to keep up with them. Several journals have set up dedicated coronavirus sites that can help in keeping up with the research.

The Lancet’s COVID-19 Resource Centre, JAMA Network’s COVID-19 resource center and NEJM’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) page all include the newest studies, commentary and related data and information on the pandemic. Continue reading

During COVID-19 pandemonium, be sure to vet your sources for the right expertise

Eric Feigl-Ding

Eric Feigl-Ding

By now, just about every health reporter on the planet probably has written at least one story about the novel coronavirus or the disease it causes, COVID-19. With such a fast-moving story and an audience hungry for accurate information, there is a constant need for finding high-quality sources who can speak to precisely to your subject. Continue reading

New data resources available on cesarean birth rates

Photo: Torsten Mangner via Flickr

One goal of the national Healthy People 2020 initiative was to reduce the rate of first-time cesarean delivery (C-section) rates among first-time mothers with relatively low-risk pregnancies by 10% to 24.7%. Since it’s now officially 2020, journalists may want to look into how well the U.S., individual states, counties or hospitals are doing. The Healthy People 2020 goals include reducing the cesarean birth rate among women with low-risk pregnancies and a prior cesarean delivery. Continue reading

Tip sheet on covering alcohol highlights do’s, don’ts and story ideas

Photo: Casey Clough via Flickr

Every day, stories about the U.S. opioid epidemic appear in daily newsfeeds, and rightly so: they are responsible for two out of every three drug overdoses in the country.

But there’s another drug not included in the usual drug overdose stats which kills almost twice as many people a year as opioids — alcohol. And yet, a casual perusal of the daily headlines usually turns up as many fun or fluff stories about alcohol as ones that suggest the risks and harms of drinking. Continue reading

Studies can inspire story ideas about unnecessary interventions

Photo: Tracy Ann C. Ball via Flickr

It’s well recognized that health care costs more in the United States than anywhere else in the world. There are myriad of complex reasons, but one aspect of health care costs that often gets lost in the conversation is how much Americans are paying for services they don’t need. Overuse of antibiotics is an often go-to example of this, but it happens with screening tests as well, especially when guidelines aren’t clear or are frequently evolving.

A recent study in JAMA Internal Medicine highlighted an excellent example of patients receiving interventions they don’t need, cost money and can cause harm. Studies like these are worth reporting on their own, but also can inspire larger stories that go deeper or look more broadly at a particular field, geographic region or population of patients. (Disclosure: I reported on this particular study for a news publication.) Continue reading