Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

U.S. Reporters Often Do A Poor Job Of Reporting About New Medical Treatments, Analysis Finds

Date:
May 29, 2008
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
Most medical news stories about health interventions fail to adequately address costs, harms, benefits, the quality of evidence and the existence of other treatment options, finds a new analysis in this week's PLoS Medicine. The analysis was conducted by Gary Schwitzer from the University of Minnesota School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Most medical news stories about health interventions fail to adequately address costs, harms, benefits, the quality of evidence, and the existence of other treatment options, finds a new analysis in this week's PLoS Medicine. The analysis was conducted by Gary Schwitzer from the University of Minnesota School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Schwitzer publishes an online project called HealthNewsReview.org (http://www.HealthNewsReview.org) that evaluates and grades media stories about new health interventions, notifying journalists of their grades. The project monitors news coverage by the top 50 most widely circulated newspapers in the US; the most widely used wire service (Associated Press); the three leading newsweekly magazines--TIME, Newsweek, and U.S. News & World Report; and the ABC, CBS and NBC television network morning and evening newscasts. Each news story is given a grade from 1 to 10, according to a set of criteria that include whether a story adequately quantifies the benefits of an intervention, appraises the supporting evidence, and gives information on the sources of a story and the sources' competing interests.

For his analysis in PLoS Medicine, Schwitzer reviewed the ratings for 500 US health news stories that were published or aired over a period of almost two years, and found that 62%--77% of stories had major failings in the quality of reporting. Schwitzer gives examples of particularly poor reporting. ABC World News, for example, was graded only 2 out of 10 for a TV report about a new test for prostate cancer, a test that the show claimed was "more accurate" than existing tests. This poor grade reflected the fact that ABC World News failed to discuss the enormous controversies surrounding the risks and benefits of prostate cancer screening, failed to discuss any evidence that the new test was superior, and failed to mention that the principal investigator of the new test receives a share of the royalties received on sales of the test.

The high rate of inadequate reporting found in this study, says Schwitzer, "raises important questions about the quality of the information US consumers receive from the news media on these health news topics."

In an editorial discussing the analysis, the PLoS Medicine editors explore some of the reasons why the quality of health news reporting is often poor, including reporters' inadequate training in understanding health research, the tendency of the 24-hour news cycle towards sensationalism, and the "complicit collaboration" between scientists, reporters, and medical journals in hyping a new study.

"Schwitzer's alarming report card of the trouble with medical news stories is a wake-up call," say the editors "for all of us involved in disseminating health research--researchers, academic institutions, journal editors, reporters, and media organizations--to work collaboratively to improve the standards of health reporting."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. Schwitzer G. How do US journalists cover treatments, tests, products, and procedures? An evaluation of 500 stories. PLoS Med, 2008; 5(5): e95 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.0050095
  2. The PLoS Medicine Editors. False hopes, unwarranted fears: The trouble with medical news stories. PLoS Med, 2008; 5(5): e118 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.0050118

Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "U.S. Reporters Often Do A Poor Job Of Reporting About New Medical Treatments, Analysis Finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 May 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080527201823.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2008, May 29). U.S. Reporters Often Do A Poor Job Of Reporting About New Medical Treatments, Analysis Finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080527201823.htm
Public Library of Science. "U.S. Reporters Often Do A Poor Job Of Reporting About New Medical Treatments, Analysis Finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080527201823.htm (accessed August 1, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Friday, August 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Texas Quintuplets Head Home

Texas Quintuplets Head Home

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 1, 2014) After four months in the hospital, the first quintuplets to be born at Baylor University Medical Center head home. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Patient Coming to U.S. for Treatment

Ebola Patient Coming to U.S. for Treatment

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 1, 2014) A U.S. aid worker infected with Ebola while working in West Africa will be treated in a high security ward at Emory University in Atlanta. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Vaccine Might Be Coming, But Where's It Been?

Ebola Vaccine Might Be Coming, But Where's It Been?

Newsy (Aug. 1, 2014) Health officials are working to fast-track a vaccine — the West-African Ebola outbreak has killed more than 700. But why didn't we already have one? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Study Links Certain Birth Control Pills To Breast Cancer

Study Links Certain Birth Control Pills To Breast Cancer

Newsy (Aug. 1, 2014) Previous studies have made the link between birth control and breast cancer, but the latest makes the link to high-estrogen oral contraceptives. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins