Tag Archives: screening

Brawley’s remarks open #AHCJ19 as 20th Health Journalism conference draws a record number of attendees

Cynthia Craft

About Cynthia Craft

Cynthia Craft (@cynthiahcraft) is the director of engagement for AHCJ, joining the organization after an extensive career in daily journalism, including a decade on the health care beat. Craft most recently worked as a senior writer at The Sacramento Bee, having also worked for the Los Angeles Times, Dallas Times Herald and the California Journal.

Photo: Pia Christensen/AHCJOtis Brawley kicked off Health Journalism 2019 with a nearly standing-room-only audience.

Otis Brawley has given a lot of thought lately to the socioeconomic factors that serve as predictors of health disparities among disadvantaged Americans.

Brawley, a Bloomberg distinguished professor at Johns Hopkins University, told a crowded room at Health Journalism 2019 in Baltimore on Thursday that a community’s resources – or lack thereof – contributes mightily to the health outcomes of its residents.

That holds true, regardless of race, Brawley explained to attendees at the record-breaking health journalism conference. About 800 people are attending the Baltimore conference, the 20th annual training confab AHCJ has held. Continue reading

Tech seeks to bring visibility to sexual assault, harassment with #metoo

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.

If you have been on Facebook or Twitter over the past few days you’ve likely seen or even participated in the “me too” campaign that is blowing up on social media.

It began after the New York Times and the New Yorker published bombshell articles on numerous sexual assault and harassment complaints against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. Actress Alyssa Milano tweeted: Continue reading

Podcast series launches with discussion of potential harms of screening tests

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.

MedStudies-blog-HealthNewsReview podcast image2If you want to get a better grasp on the intricacies of screenings and assessing their risk-benefit analysis, there’s now another option to reading about it. The inaugural episode of a new podcast series at HealthNewsReview.org features Hanna Bloomfield, M.D., M.P.H., sounding off on the problem of blanket promotion of cardiovascular screening and similar medical tests. Continue reading

Balancing a celebrity endorsement with evidence

Brenda Goodman

About Brenda Goodman

Brenda Goodman (@GoodmanBrenda), an Atlanta-based freelancer, is AHCJ’s topic leader on medical studies, curating related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on medical study resources and tip sheets at brenda@healthjournalism.org.

Angelina Jolie

Image by Gage Skidmore via flickr.

“The ability to talk to a lot of people is freakish,” said Chris Rock in a conversation with Jerry Seinfeld for his new online show “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.”

“It’s more freakish than being able to run fast or dunk a basketball or any of those things.”

It’s freakish and powerful, maybe too powerful when it comes to celebrity endorsements of medical tests.

Dubbed “The Katie Couric Effect” for the 20 percent boost to colonoscopies after the popular anchor televised her own screening in March 2000, it’s also been demonstrated in cervical cancer and myriad other kinds of cancer screening tests.

No doubt it is happening again in the wake of Angelina Jolie’s May announcement of her BRCA testing for breast and ovarian cancer. The stock market has bet on it. And some doctors saw spikes in calls from patients after her New York Times op-ed was published. Continue reading

Komen’s funding of research drops; writer looks at charity’s message vs. science

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

Amid the controversy over the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation’s changes in funding for Planned Parenthood, Reuters’ reporters Sharon Begley and Janet Roberts took a look at the organization’s financial statements.

Their analysis shows that the charity has “cut by nearly half the proportion of fund-raising dollars it spends on grants to scientists working to understand the causes and develop effective new treatments for the disease.”

In 2008, it spent 29 percent of its donations on research awards. In 2011, that number was down to 15 percent.

Reuters reports that, according to the 2011 financial statement, “43 percent of donations were spent on education, 18 percent on fund-raising and administration, 15 percent on research awards and grants, 12 percent on screening and 5 percent on treatment.”

Meanwhile, AHCJ member and independent journalist Christie Aschwanden writes that the real scandal lies with the organization’s “science denialism.” She says it has perpetuated the “notion that breast cancer is a uniformly progressive disease that starts small and only grows and spreads if you don’t stop it in time” – breast cancer’s false narrative.

Aschwanden points out that Komen’s insistence that women be “screened now” and that early detection saves lives, as proclaimed in its ads, “flies in the face of basic cancer biology” as well as places blame on people who have metastatic breast cancer. The piece is well worth a read, especially to find out what Komen’s own chief scientific adviser says about the organization’s message.

And, for a re-cap of the Komen saga, ProPublica has put together a handy timeline of Komen’s “Shifting Story on Planned Parenthood.”

KevinMD: Media is key to curbing MRI overuse

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

On the MedPage Today outlet KevinMD.com, Dr. Kevin Pho himself writes that media coverage of the overuse of certain screening procedures is “long overdue,” and praises The New York Timesrecent coverage of a study showing that in some cases MRIs can lead to more harm than good.

In the Times, reporter Gina Kolata explained, when unleashed upon the throwing shoulders of 31 healthy professional baseball pitchers, “M.R.I.’s found abnormal shoulder cartilage in 90 percent of them and abnormal rotator cuff tendons in 87 percent.” It’s a result, Kolata wrote, that shows that MRIs are “easily misinterpreted and can result in misdiagnoses leading to unnecessary or even harmful treatments.”

Back at his web portal, Pho writes that there are two steps that need to be taken to curb the overuse of the MRI. The first is cracking down on physicians who own their own MRI machines or otherwise profit from the tests, and the second is what he calls “adjusting patient expectations.” That’s where, he says, the media comes in.

there are some, but not all, patients who expect a scan and equate an MRI with “being thorough.” In fact, when orthopedic fellows cited in the Times story suggest that patients may not need a scan, patients “look at them like, ‘You don’t know what you’re doing.’”

Doctors can help educate patients away from the mythical benefits of overtesting. But the most effective teacher is the media, which wields significantly more influence. That’s why a story like this in the Times should be applauded, and promoted.

A fun aside? The study was conducted by none other than Dr. James Andrews, whose name will be familiar to anyone with even a passing familiarity with the sports pages.