Panelists explain how to begin mastering medical studies

Joseph Burns

About Joseph Burns

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance. He welcomes questions and suggestions on insurance resources and tip sheets at joseph@healthjournalism.org.

Comic by xkcd.com

At some point almost all health care journalists will need to cover a medical study or two. When that happens, you’ll want to have at least a passing understanding of p values and statistics and you’ll need to know that correlation does not imply causation.

For a session on May 2, AHCJ’s medical studies topic leader Tara Haelle moderated a panel, “Begin mastering medical studies.” Haelle and two experts in the topic explained some of the finer points of covering studies: Ishani Ganguli, M.D., an assistant professor of medicine at the Harvard Medical School, and an internal medicine physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital; and Regina Nuzzo, Ph.D., a freelance journalist and professor of science, technology and mathematics at Gallaudet University. Continue reading

Scientists look for new antimicrobials and urge government incentives

Bara Vaida

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.

Photo: CDC/ Melissa Dankel

Researchers are looking to old drugs, plants and viruses in a race to find new ways to kill disease-causing microbes before they become resistant to all existing pharmaceuticals, but their work will flounder if the federal government can’t figure out how to incentive companies to turn their work into commercially viable drugs. Continue reading

Conference coverage 101: New tip sheet can ease your experience at the event

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: raymondclarkeimages via Flickr

Covering medical conferences is the bread and butter of many health journalists, especially if they write for trade publications. A previous tip sheet offered tips for how to prepare for covering a medical conference, and now we’ve compiled a tip sheet aimed at making the most of a conference while you’re on the ground rushing from session to session.

Policies, schedules, location layout, press room amenities, conference structure and other characteristics vary from one conference to another, but most of the tips we offer will apply to nearly every research conference, big or small, in any discipline or subspecialty. Continue reading

This is the brain on health disparities: Their role in dementia

Emily Willingham

About Emily Willingham

Emily Willingham (@ejwillingham) is AHCJ's core topic leader on the social determinants of health. She is a science journalist whose work has appeared in the Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Wall Street Journal, Scientific American, and Forbes, among others, and co-author of "The Informed Parent: A Science-Based Guide to Your Child's First Four Years."

Photo: NIH Image Gallery via Flickr

In a recent commentary in JAMA Neurology, Elisa de Paula França Resende, M.D., of the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues write about how social determinants of health affect demographic patterns of dementia in the United States. Noting that with an aging population, the prevalence of dementia will increase substantially, Resende and her co-authors write that of the social determinants affecting dementia risk, health and socioeconomics act more strongly than do race or cultural identifiers. I will add here that being female also is involved in dementia risk, as women are at greater risk for it than men. Continue reading

Diversifying your sources can improve your reporting

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.

It’s an easy trap to fall into: call the hospital public relations department and ask to speak with an authority about your topic. Chances are good you will end up interviewing an older, typically white, male doctor.

And while there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, if you’re only talking to one group of experts, you’re missing out on vital sources which can add rich, diverse perspectives to your stories, according to the journalists who participated in the “Finding diverse sources for your story” panel at Health Journalism 2019. Besides, diversity is just good journalism. Continue reading

Panelists break down the realities of precision medicine and immunotherapy

Rebecca Vesely

About Rebecca Vesely

Rebecca Vesely is AHCJ's topic leader on health information technology and a freelance writer. She has written about health, science and medicine for AFP, the Bay Area News Group, Modern Healthcare, Wired, Scientific American online and many other news outlets.

Otis Brawley, M.D., and Matthew Ong, of The Cancer Letter, were on the panel “How precision medicine and immunotherapy are redefining the approach to cancer treatment.”

Are precision medicine and immunotherapy overhyped as cancer treatments, or do they hold such tremendous promise that we are only just starting to see the potential?

That was the overarching question for the panel discussion at Health Journalism 2019, “How precision medicine and immunotherapy are redefining cancer treatment.”

“I do worry that precision medicine and immunotherapy are overhyped,” said Otis W. Brawley, M.D., Bloomberg distinguished professor of oncology and epidemiology at the Bloomberg School of Public Health and John Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center. Brawley also was the Thursday night speaker at Health Journalism 2019. Continue reading