Photo: iT@c via Flickr
Of all the skills needed for reporting on medical research, it’s hard to think of one more important than being able to read and understand a single medical study. That may sound obvious, but a surprising number of journalists find their way to covering research findings before they have learned how to read the research papers themselves. (I once was one of them!)
I usually give a talk reviewing the basics of this task at the AHCJ conference each year, but this year’s conference unfortunately was among the large meeting casualties of the pandemic. Regardless, learning to read scientific studies is one of those skills where you get better at it the more you try to do it yourself and the more you hear from different people about how they do it. Continue reading
Photo: NIAID via FlickrColorized scanning electron micrograph of an apoptotic cell (blue) infected with SARS-COV-2 virus particles (red), isolated from a patient sample.
For the first six weeks of the pandemic, problems with PCR testing for the COVID-19 viral infection dominated headlines. Now that serology testing — testing for antibodies to COVID-19 — is picking up steam, there is important context and uncertainty that readers may not be getting.
A new AHCJ tip sheet addresses some of the most important questions to address in reporting on serology testing, as well as recommended reading on the topic. For example, this Lifehacker article does a great job of laying out some of the significant issues with antibody testing. Continue reading
There’s still a lot we don’t yet know about the novel coronavirus, but one thing is clear: older adults are among those at highest risk. A majority of deaths worldwide from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, have occurred in the 60-plus population. U.S. health officials are advising anyone over 60, or those with serious chronic medical conditions, to stay home for the next month. Continue reading
Photo: Peter T. via FlickrLegendary boxer Muhammad Ali, shown after receiving the 2012 Liberty Medal in Philadelphia, Pa., had lived with Parkinson’s disease for more than 30 years before dying in 2016 at age 74.
We probably all know at least one older person who has developed Parkinson’s disease, a degenerative neurological condition which affects one in every hundred people over age 60.
A small proportion (about 4 percent) of adults under age 50 can develop it too. The National Institutes of Health estimates that one million people in the United States are living with this condition. As the population ages, incidence will likely increase, putting more pressure on the health system at a time when funding for federal health and science programs and research is under pressure.
Parkinson’s affects a person’s movement, speech, cognition, balance and behavior. There is no known cure, nor can symptoms be reversed, though they can be managed through a regimen of multiple medications and therapy. The Parkinson’s Disease Foundation estimates direct and indirect costs of the disease in the United States at around $25 billion annually. Continue reading
Telehealth services are gaining ground as a means to expand reach and keep health costs down.
But what about telemental health? On one hand, it could be a boon for older adults who may be isolated or otherwise unable to visit a mental health practitioner in person. However, as the American Telehealth Association notes, “the service must be provided to an eligible Medicare beneficiary in an eligible facility (originating site) located outside of a Metropolitan Statistical Area” or in a health professional shortage area (HPSA).” Continue reading
Effective reporting requires health journalists to be comfortable independently evaluating clinical studies and drawing their own conclusions about data. If you just rely on information from press releases, it’s akin to committing “journalistic malpractice,” as AHCJ Vice President Ivan Oransky often warns.
A new tip sheet from Bonny P. McClain adds to this fountain of knowledge. McClain explores why and how The International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research (ISPOR) can be a valuable partner in navigating our complex and ever-changing health system. Continue reading