Every two weeks, the Wall Street Journal publishes a terrific column by Jeremy Singer-Vine. Each column gives a brief synopsis of a recent research story and then gives readers caveats about or limitations in the study itself.
It’s exactly the kind of breakdown that more journalists should do every day when they cover medical research news.
He commonly cautions readers about not drawing conclusions because of:
lack of long-term data
small study size
drop out rates in the trial should be taken into account
research done in animals not humans
research that was observational, not a true experiment
research that can only point to statistical association, not causation
confounding factors that may explain what was seen in the study
results may not be generalizable to other populations
result may not be generalizable to other similar products