Researchers found a lot to be dissatisfied with in a review of nearly 2,000 stories about “new medical treatments, tests, products, and procedures.” Most stories were “unsatisfactory on 5 of 10 review criteria: costs, benefits, harms, quality of the evidence, and comparison of the new approach with alternatives,” Gary Schwitzer writes in a report published by JAMA Internal Medicine.
Some of the problems researchers from HealthNewsReview.org found in the study, which examined reports in print, Web and broadcast media:
- Stories “often framed benefits in the most positive light”
It’s important to report on absolute risk, not just relative risk, the study warns. Here’s a guide to understanding the difference.
- Reports rarely explain the limitations of observational studies
Lots of news outlets reported on a Mayo Clinic study published last summer about the effects of coffee on mortality, and “Each story used language suggesting cause and effect had been established, although it had not,” Schwitzer writes.