One of the most challenging aspects about reporting on medical research is the need to convey risk in a meaningful way to readers. Human brains are not wired to understand risk in the way we need to understand it in the 21st century. Our brains evolved to assess risks for very different environments and threats than those we face today ― particularly in a time of pandemic. Continue reading
The National Institutes of Health last month halted a clinical trial of hydroxychloroquine for use in treating COVID-19 patients. The NIH ended the trial because the antimalarial drug, while safe, was proven to have no benefit to hospitalized patients.
The decision came just three months after President Trump declared the drug a “game-changer” and arranged for the U.S. to purchase 29 million doses to be “immediately available” to the public for treating the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19. Continue reading
If you cover medical studies for national publications, you rarely have to worry about localizing it to one particular region. But local and state journalists typically have to go deeper when covering a national study for region-specific publications. A new obesity prevalence study is out? How does that compare to obesity rates in your state? In your county? In your city? In your schools? Continue reading
Be like Popeye. Eat your spinach. And kale. And lettuce. That’s the takeaway from a recent multi-ethnic meta-analysis by researchers at Tufts University.
While the study didn’t prove cause and effect, it did show that the risk of death was nearly 20% higher for older adults with low vitamin K levels compared to those whose levels were adequate. The results suggest vitamin K, a nutrient found in leafy greens and vegetable oils, may have protective health benefits as we age, according to the researchers.
The meta-analysis involved nearly 4,000 Americans between the ages of 54 and 76. One-third of the participants were non-white. Researchers at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (USDA HNRCA) and Tufts Medical Center categorized participants according to their vitamin K blood levels. They then compared the risk of heart disease and risk of death across the categories over approximately 13 years of follow-up. Continue reading
So much of reporting on medical studies focuses on drugs, treatments, preventive care, health outcomes, risk factors and similar aspects of individual health. It’s easy to forget that there is a whole other area of literature concerned with the people who provide care.
More and more studies are examining burnout and mental health among physicians, nurses and other providers, for example. Health policy often relies on research about workforce trends and shortages. But many of studies only look at the whole nation or a particular region, making difficult to localize the data if you’re not a national reporter. Continue reading
After a wave of online conversations unveiled issues with inclusion at some of the nation’s top publications and media companies, freelancers can step up now by thinking more critically about the sources they interview for their stories. Several groups have created databases in recent years to encourage reporters to extend their limited perspectives and typical networks, and now seems like a good time for a reminder and a nudge.
“Inclusive reporting” beefs up your stories with a variety of viewpoints that come from a different race, gender, sexual orientation, lifestyle or culture than your own. Plus, a diversity of sources adds credibility, accuracy and context to your work. Continue reading