How I did it
Learn from these journalists how they have covered various aspects of medical studies and research. They provide valuable tips and sources and explain how they got past the challenges to explain these complex topics to their audiences.
Staff writer talks about covering COVID, responding to anti-science sentiment
Here Smith talks more about her journalism journey this year and advice for colleagues on how journalists can respond to anti-science sentiment and COVID-19 disbelievers.
In-depth, personal reporting digs deep into consumer genetic testing
Here she discusses how the story came about, her reporting process and the resources she used while working on the story.
Covering a controversial study: How to dig deep on a deadline
So when she was assigned to write about the JAMA Pediatrics study finding a link between prenatal fluoride exposure and reduced IQ in preschoolers, "two things went through my mind: One, this is going to be covered horribly by some outlets and likely create unnecessary anxiety among parents, especially pregnant women (who have enough to worry about when it comes to do’s and don’ts). Two, I need to be one of those who gets it right."
Here, Haelle shares how she approached, reported and completed her own article, in case seeing her process is helpful for others when there’s another potentially controversial study to cover.
Looking behind the hype — and potential — of a lifestyle approach to Alzheimer’s
In this How I Did It piece, she explains how she pulled the pieces together for a look at how lifestyle therapies were succeeding for many in early disease stages, while most drugs never made it out of study phase.
Putting a human face on antibiotic resistance
The story vividly illustrates a potential new avenue for treating antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Here, Dall explains more about how he wrote the story.
Vox reporter describes deep dive into medical studies on back pain
Vox reporter Julia Belluz took a dive into the evidence to find out what actually causes it and what can — and can’t — treat it. In this Q&A, she describes how she approached and executed the Show Me the Evidence piece on back pain.
Taking on a story about autism that no one wanted
Here, she discusses how she came up with the idea for her story, “How ‘shock therapy’ is saving some children with autism,” how she researched and reported it, what her biggest challenges were, and offers advice for other journalists.
Reporting all the angles on organ transplants and improving their odds
He explored transplant policy last year through an AHCJ Reporting Fellowship on Health Care Performance, initially planning to focus on the increasing attention to success rates by private insurers and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
But, while one of his stories touched on that, his research revealed other issues, which he organized into three main themes in a nine-part series for the Wisconsin State Journal.
Rush to Robotic Surgery Outpaces Medical Evidence, Critics Say
After I saw the item, I went to PubMed and found a few studies that reported varied results with robotic surgery, particularly with its growing use in gynecology. I also was aware, from my aforementioned days with the surgeon magazine, that robotic operations cost more than conventional surgery and required quite a learning curve for the surgeon and operating room staff.
Reporting on facial reconstructive surgery offers window into how war spurs innovation
Journalist Liza Gross wrote a short essay about the trauma associated with disfiguring facial injuries. She writes that she didn’t think too much more about it until a press conference at an American Association for the Advancement of Science conference on facial reconstruction. She decided to learn more about the state of research on facial repair. Here she shares what she learned about the field, how she reported on it and how war spurs innovations in medicine.
Batea initiative hopes to help improve Wikipedia health content
DocGraph is founded by Fred Trotter, an AHCJ member who has been working for years to make big data accessible and useful from the consumer side. Tara Haelle asked Trotter about Batea, which was created with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and how it might serve journalists in the future.
Award winner explains how she dug into the reasons for high U.S. drug prices
In the following Q&A, Nelson explains her reporting and writing process for the piece, which earned second place in the Trade Publications/Newsletters category of the 2014 Awards for Excellence in Health Care Journalism.
Using evidence, FDA reports and legal documents to explore robotic surgery’s risks and benefits
Reporting on the confusion over medical tests and the consequences
There are two types of medical tests that a person might undergo: a screening and a diagnostic test. The results of screening tell a patient how likely they are to have a particular condition; screenings are about risk. A diagnostic test, however, actually diagnoses a condition.
Using data to expose the risks of home births
While beauticians and tattoo artists are regulated in the state, midwife certification is voluntary in Oregon, and even then, the hurdles for certification are rather minimal.
But with midwives largely operating outside of the established health care system, there was little more than anecdotal evidence about the safety of home births to go on. That changed last year.
"If home birth were a drug," he wrote, "it would be taken off the market."
Mixing medical evidence with a health experience
Of course, my very first response was not something we can print on a family-friendly website.
But even after I started to gracefully (sort of) accept what I was facing, I wasn’t anxious to write about it. There is a rich literature of illness narratives, and I didn’t feel my own emotional experience was going to add much to what many excellent writers had already contributed to the canon. (See: Barbara Ehrenriech, Joyce Wadler, Peggy `Orenstein, to name just a few.) Plus, my own diagnosis – a stage 0 noninvasive cancer called ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) – had an excellent prognosis, which thankfully took much of the pathos out of my story.
Bringing a medical study home to your local market
We asked health reporter Eryn Brown to share how she recently turned a medical study from Yale University into a poignant local story for the Los Angeles Times. In bringing the research home, she shined a light on the heartbreaking ways low-income mothers have to stretch diapers when they can't afford a steady supply.
When the study’s not the story
Deadline management for medical research news
Award-winning health reporter Daniel J. DeNoon shares his straightforward strategy for reporting and writing a news story about a journal article while on deadline.
He has tips on what parts of the study to read first, how to find experts to comment, how many people to interview and how to convey the importance of your deadline to your sources.
Debates over screening, comparative effectiveness research lead to compelling reporting
Uncovering conflicts of interest in medicine, research
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