I’ve discussed in previous blog posts ways in which confounding by indication can completely change the way observational research is interpreted: it can flip common wisdom about labor induction and cesarean delivery risk on its head, and it can lead to bizarre conversations illustrating a researchers’ blind spots when it comes to discussing topics such as depression and hormonal birth control. Continue reading
I wrote in a previous blog about the importance of understanding confounding by indication and being sure to ask researchers about it when covering observational studies that appear to suggest a particular treatment or intervention might contribute to a specific effect. I’m passionate about this type of study bias because not considering it — which happens a LOT — can lead people to decline otherwise helpful treatments or leave them experiencing more harm and pain because of unfounded fears. Continue reading
One of the biggest challenges in teasing out possible causation or directionality of an exposure and an observed phenomenon, it’s essential to consider confounding by indication. Although it’s described in the Medical Studies Core Topic Key Concepts page, it’s such an important consideration in both evaluating medical studies and in formulating questions for them that it deserves a special call-out — again and again and again.
So I’m writing three blog posts with mini case studies of confounding by indication because I REALLY want to drive home how important it is that reporters covering observational studies think hard about all the possible reasons a correlation might exist between an intervention or exposure and a subsequent intervention, medical condition or negative effect. Continue reading
With thousands of medical studies published every day, it’s impossible to cover even 1 percent of them. When you can only choose a tiny fraction of studies to cover — particularly if you freelance or your editor gives you some autonomy and flexibility in this area — how do you decide whether or not to cover a study?
Reasons can vary: Some people focus on the better known “more prestigious” journals, although that approach has its drawbacks. Continue reading