Tag Archives: Studies

Spin happens: How we cover medical studies affects readers’ attitude toward results

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.

How much does the way you cover a study matter? If we judge that question on the basis of how your coverage might influence a reader’s opinion about a treatment’s benefit, it matters quite a bit, suggest the results of a recent study in BMC Medicine that examined spin in news stories about clinical studies.

In short, news articles that included spin in their coverage of a study about a particular treatment were more likely to leave readers with a positive impression of the treatment’s benefit.

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Reporter takes deep dive into alternative Alzheimer’s therapy

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.

Photo: Joy Weinberg via Flickr

There’s no doubt that a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is devastating for both the person who receives it and for their family.

Although it’s the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., affecting nearly 6 million people, finding a cure or even a long-term treatment has proven elusive. Most drugs never make it out of Phase I or II trials. Continue reading

New tip sheet expands on HealthNewsReview.org criteria

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.

The first AHCJ conference I ever attended was in 2011 in Philadelphia. I had only recently learned about the organization and knew very little about it. I’d signed up for a field trip, but I had brought my 8-month-old with me and was up late the night before, so overslept and missed it.

When I actually got to the conference (my aunt watched my son), I caught the second half of a Thursday workshop with Ivan Oransky, M.D., (now AHCJ’s president) and Gary Schwitzer of HealthNewsReview.org on how to understand and responsibly report on medical studies. It was the session I would eventually end up leading myself years later. Continue reading

New research examines pros and cons of vitamin D to improve memory

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.

Photo: Thomas Hassel via Flickr

How much can vitamin D supplementation boost memory, learning and decision-making in older adults – and how much can be too much?

That’s what Rutgers University-led research team set to find out in a recent study published in The Journals of Gerontology: Series A.

They examined the effects of three different doses of vitamin D on the cognition of older women. Continue reading

Boning up on unfamiliar research areas can pay off with specialized knowledge, more assignments

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: bc the path via Flickr

In a recent social media post, a fellow journalist asked how others get up to speed on reporting about topics new to them, or even covering a new subtopic within an area they already cover. Here’s some of what was shared in that online discussion, and I encourage others to share their tips in the comments as well.

If it’s a quick piece with a tight turnaround and I find I’m out of my depth, I go back to the editor and say so. I’ve turned down assignments even after taking them if I realize I just don’t have the necessary foundational knowledge. Continue reading

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