Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

'Spin' in media reports of scientific articles

Date:
September 11, 2012
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
Press releases and news stories reporting the results of randomized controlled trials often contain "spin" -- specific reporting strategies (intentional or unintentional) emphasizing the beneficial effect of the experimental treatment -- but such "spin" frequently comes from the abstract of the actual study published in a scientific journal, rather than being related to misinterpretation by the media, according to French researchers.

Press releases and news stories reporting the results of randomized controlled trials often contain "spin" -- specific reporting strategies (intentional or unintentional) emphasizing the beneficial effect of the experimental treatment -- but such "spin" frequently comes from the abstract (summary) of the actual study published in a scientific journal, rather than being related to misinterpretation by the media, according to French researchers writing in this week's PLoS Medicine.

"Spinning" the reporting of clinical trials could give physicians and patients unrealistic expectations about new treatments. It is important to know the source of "spin" and so French researchers, led by Isabelle Boutron from the Universitι Paris Descartes, looked for the presence of "spin" in a sample of 70 press releases, and 41 associated news stories, of randomized controlled trials and investigated the source of the "spin."

The authors found that 33 (47%) of press releases contained "spin" and also identified "spin" in the conclusions of 28 (40%) study abstracts published in scientific journals. Furthermore, 21 (51%) of the associated news stories were reported with "spin," mainly the same type of '"spin"' as those identified in the press release and article abstract conclusions. Importantly, "spin" could lead readers to overestimate the benefits of the treatment.

The authors conclude: "Our results highlight a tendency for press releases and the associated media coverage of randomized controlled trials to place emphasis on the beneficial effects of experimental treatments. This tendency is probably related to the presence of "spin" in conclusions of the scientific article's abstract. "

They continue: "Our work highlights that this inappropriate reporting could bias readers' interpretation of research results."

The authors add: "Consequently, reviewers and editors of published articles have an important role to play in the dissemination of research findings and should be particularly aware of the need to ensure that the conclusions reported are an appropriate reflection of the trial findings and do not overinterpret or misinterpret the results."


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 Reference:

  1. Amιlie Yavchitz, Isabelle Boutron, Aida Bafeta, Ibrahim Marroun, Pierre Charles, Jean Mantz, Philippe Ravaud. Misrepresentation of Randomized Controlled Trials in Press Releases and News Coverage: A Cohort Study. PLoS Medicine, 2012; 9 (9): e1001308 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001308

Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "'Spin' in media reports of scientific articles." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 September 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120911172302.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2012, September 11). 'Spin' in media reports of scientific articles. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120911172302.htm
Public Library of Science. "'Spin' in media reports of scientific articles." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120911172302.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Science & Society News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How 'Yes Means Yes' Defines Sexual Assault

How 'Yes Means Yes' Defines Sexual Assault

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) — Aimed at reducing sexual assaults on college campuses, California has adopted a new law changing the standard of consent for sexual activity. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Is Big Tobacco Voluntarily Warning You About E-Cigs?

Why Is Big Tobacco Voluntarily Warning You About E-Cigs?

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) — Big tobacco companies are voluntarily printing health warnings on their e-cigarette packages — a move some are calling part of a PR strategy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Pediatricians Endorse IUDs, Implants For Teens

Why Pediatricians Endorse IUDs, Implants For Teens

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) — New recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics point to intrauterine devices and implants as good forms of birth control for teens. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Corvette Can Secretly Record Convos And Get You Arrested

New Corvette Can Secretly Record Convos And Get You Arrested

Newsy (Sep. 28, 2014) — The 2015 Corvette features valet mode – which allows the owner to secretly record audio and video – but in many states that practice is illegal. 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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Science & Society

Business & Industry

Education & Learning

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