Category Archives: Covering medical studies

Hefty issue of HealthBeat headed for mailboxes

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 AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

HealthBeatThe latest issue of HealthBeat is expected to be delivered to members of the Association of Health Care Journalists any day now.

In this issue, we highlight some of our best advice and resources for covering the novel coronavirus and COVID-19, from keeping nursing home residents safe to debunking conspiracy theories (and doesn’t it seem as if there’s a new one each week?)

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Press release reporting is irresponsible — especially in a 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.

coronavirusI received a text from a friend this week with a link to an article about a new drug for COVID-19 that led to “rapid recovery” of “critically ill” patients with COVID-19. “Houston Methodist Hospital is making national headlines after doctors used a new drug to help treat critically ill COVID-19 patients,” the breathless lead began. The last paragraph included this similarly dramatic quote from the drug manufacturer’s CEO in a press release: “No other antiviral agent has demonstrated rapid recovery from viral infection and demonstrated laboratory inhibition of viral replication.”

Along with the article link, my friend had texted, “Reads like a press release.” Continue reading

Two more medical organizations recognize AHCJ membership as credential

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 AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

People at meeting

Photo: Luis Quintero via Pexels

The Association of Health Care Journalists has secured two recent successes in its ongoing effort to persuade medical societies to allow freelance journalists to use membership in AHCJ as a credential to attend meetings and media briefings.

The Gerontological Society of America and the American Gastroenterological Association have joined the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and other organizations that have agreed to recognize professional-category membership in AHCJ as sufficient credential for admission to their meetings. Continue reading

Biogen submits BLA for an Alzheimer’s drug with a controversial past

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: GollyGforce via Flickr

Could an Alzheimer’s drug finally be on the horizon? Possibly ― if the FDA agrees with data from several Biogen clinical trials ― but approval is still far from a sure bet.

The company, on July 9, submitted its biologics license application (BLA) for aducanumab, an investigational treatment for the disease. The submission includes clinical data from Phase 3 EMERGE and ENGAGE studies, as well as the Phase 1B PRIME study. Biogen has requested an accelerated review, potentially putting the medication on a path for a final decision by March 2021. However, data from these Phase 3 trials are not without controversy in the scientific community.

“Aducanumab, a so-called monoclonal antibody designed to target amyloid plaque in the brain, has been one of the most closely watched drugs in development for several years,” according to Bloomberg News. Continue reading

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