It’s no secret that humans are horrible at comprehending and estimating risk, especially when it comes to abstract numbers. It’s one reason (of several) that people fear encountering sharks at the beach more than the undertows that can drown them.
Misperceptions of risk have become an even more urgent life-or-death issue during the pandemic as a substantial number of people attempt to downplay the fatality rate. Continue reading
Millions of people around the world take acid suppressants called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) for conditions like heartburn, gastritis and stomach ulcers. Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden now report that long-term use of these drugs could increase the risk of developing dementia. Continue reading
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
Scientists now have a much better idea of how people become infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
But public health guidelines for how to prevent spread have been confusing. There have been mixed messages provided by federal, state and local government leaders, which has left many people hungry for information about how to assess their risks, as businesses reopen and summer vacation plans are looming.
To help fill the information gap, Dr. Erin Bromage, a University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth associate biology professor who has spent much of his career utilizing infection control measures in his animal research work, created a blog called “COVID-19 Musings.” Continue reading
Photo: Esther Dyson via Flickr
To effectively report on medical research, you should understand how big a difference that an intervention or an exposure makes.
Absolute risk can be the best for this, but many studies report other comparisons as well. Sometimes a study reports this effect size — the magnitude of difference between two groups — in terms that literally are Greek to me: Continue reading
A panel of experts in geriatric care has identified nearly 100 medications that should be avoided or used with caution among the older population in the latest update to the Beers Criteria for Potentially Inappropriate Medication Use in Older Adults.
The recommendations by the American Geriatrics Society are widely used by clinicians, educators, researchers, health care administrators and regulators to ensure medications are appropriately prescribed. Continue reading