I recently was assessing a lengthy review of the evidence on environmental exposures and breast cancer risk, and as I read, red flags started popping up. While I may not know the evidence base in this area extremely well, I knew it well enough to recognize that the authors were making statements I was pretty sure were not supported by the evidence — or at least not to the extent the review suggested. Continue reading
The bread and butter of medical research reporting traditionally has been coverage of peer-reviewed studies. However, some new kids are threatening to elbow their way into the conversation and reporters should be prepared.
Preprints aren’t exactly new to scientific research in general, but are a recent phenomenon within biological research and rapidly growing, according to graphs at PrePubMed, a preprint aggregator and indexer similar to but unaffiliated with PubMed. Preprints also are making their way into medical/clinical research. Continue reading
At the American Academy of Pediatrics annual meeting last fall, I attended a talk by Kevin Powell, M.D., Ph.D., called “Evidence-Based Medicine in a World of Post-Truth and Alternative Facts.”
Despite the title’s allusions, however, the talk did not discuss problems in communicating science or medical findings in today’s media ecosystem. Rather, Powell argued that many of the problems we see in today’s problematic reporting and “fake news” have long existed in medical research — but there are ways to address those problems. Continue reading
One challenge when covering medical conferences is that, depending on your publication’s needs, you often must conduct many interviews on the fly both with presenters and with attendees at the sessions.
Since many other people also are vying for the presenters’ attention, you might only be able to get in a few short questions after a session. Continue reading
Most often, reporting on medical studies means recounting numbers, demographic details, findings and statistical probability values that are so abstract that it’s easy to forget they all refer to actual people enrolled in the study. With epidemiological studies, the researchers themselves often never meet the people they report on, especially if it’s a retrospective study that primarily relies on electronic medical records.
But clinical trials are a different story. Continue reading
Journals require authors to disclose any possible financial conflicts of interest (COIs) because research has shown links between industry funding and study outcomes. Funding from pharmaceutical or medical device companies is relatively straightforward to track, but financial COIs in psychosocial research can be more complex and underreported. Nonetheless, they are no less important to disclose, argue Ioana-Alina Cristea, Ph.D., and John P. A. Ioannidis, M.D., DSc, in a JAMA Psychiatry commentary earlier this year. Continue reading