Category Archives: Covering medical studies

New tip sheet helps you find the precisely right expert when you need them

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.

I’ve written before about the importance of finding not just any expert but one with detailed expertise in the specific area you need when covering a study. In that context, it was with COVID-19, but the same holds true with any research. If you’re covering a nutrition study, calling up any nutritionist to get an outside opinion does not ensure you are getting a fully informed opinion from someone familiar with the evidence. You need a nutrition researcher who is very familiar with the specific research in the paper. Continue reading

If AstraZeneca’s vaccine is authorized, be prepared to write those explainers

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.

AstraZeneca

Photo: Cheshire East Council via Flickr

Just a day after AstraZeneca announced long-awaited interim results from its U.S. phase 3 trial earlier this week, the company again became mired in controversy about what’s going on with its vaccine.

The trial’s Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) — a group of independent experts who monitor the safety and efficacy of a drug or intervention during a trial — sent a memo to the company and government health officials, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), contesting the company’s portrayal of its vaccine’s efficacy. Continue reading

Journalism partners unveil National Science-Health-Environment Reporting Fellowships program for 2021-22

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.

National Science-Health-Environment Reporting FellowshipsJournalists interested in building careers reporting on science, health and the environment are eligible to apply for new cross-cutting fellowships designed to provide training, networking, mentoring, new sources and story ideas, while allowing them to stay at their jobs.

The National Science-Health-Environment Reporting Fellowships are a first-ever collaboration of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing (CASW), the Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ), and the Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ). The year-long fellowships are open to early-career journalists interested in covering any or all of the three fields.

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AHCJ’s annual conference rescheduled for October

About Jeff Porter

Jeff Porter is the director of education for AHCJ and plays a lead role in planning conferences, workshops and other training events. He also leads the organization's data collection and data instruction efforts.

With safety as a top consideration, AHCJ has changed the dates for the world’s premier health journalism conference.

Health Journalism 2021 is scheduled for Oct. 28-31 in Austin, Texas. The downtown Hilton Austin will serve as the main conference site.

“We have been working closely with the hotel in Austin to secure these new dates for Health Journalism 2021,” said AHCJ Executive Director Andrew Smiley. Continue reading

When writing about SARS-CoV-2 variants, utilize metaphors

About Bara Vaida

Bara Vaida (@barav) is AHCJ's core topic leader on infectious diseases. An independent journalist, she has written extensively about health policy and infectious diseases. Her work has appeared in outlets that include the National Journal, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, McClatchy News Service, MSNBC, NPR, Politico and The Washington Post.

An electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (round gold objects) emerging from the surface of lab-cultured cells.

Photo: NIAID via FlickrAn electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (round gold objects) emerging from the surface of lab-cultured cells.

Writing about how the various COVID-19 vaccines work and the challenges that may lie with emerging genetic variants of SARS-CoV-2 can be challenging for journalists, as it requires explaining the technicalities of genetics in layman’s terms.

Independent journalist Marla Broadfoot, who has a doctorate in genetics and molecular biology, suggests using metaphors and asking sources to elaborate on favorite metaphors they’ve used to explain virus genetics and the COVID-19 vaccine to family and friends. Continue reading

An example of COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy reporting done right

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.

PfizerVaccine_Blog_Studies_Haelle

Photo: Self Magazine via Flickr

I’ve written previously on Covering Health about the potential harms of reporting on surveys and polls about people’s intent to get the COVID-19 vaccine. In late September, the FDA had not yet authorized any vaccines, so any poll or survey questions were theoretical. Now that vaccines are in distribution, however, does that change things?

Well, yes and no. At that time, I also wrote that vaccine hesitancy wasn’t what we needed to worry about— instead, it was access and equity. Continue reading