When Dave deBronkart was diagnosed with advanced kidney cancer, he learned how to evaluate the evidence behind different treatment options, and he urges other patients not to be intimidated.
Dr. Steven Atlas, one of our medical editors
Common flaws in stories:
Thumbs Up Examples
Thumbs Down Examples
The story described what is known about resveratrol as intriguing but very incomplete. It mentioned work done with mice, round worms and yeast. While mentioning the various health claims made for this compound, the story was appropriately circumspect about them. A parting comment from a scientist from the National Institute of Aging indicated that until we know how this compound works and what the benefit might be – offering on the open market was akin to pedaling snake oil.
The story made clear that the work was being done in small numbers of children, that there’s “a long way to go,” and that researchers “caution that much more research is needed to prove and perfect the approach and that it is far from ready for widespread use.”
The story is based on results of two high-quality clinical trials, and it describes the methodologies sufficiently.
The story does an excellent job of laying out the caveats very early: that the results won’t end the controversy over the value of prostate cancer screening; and that the studies continue and may provide clearer answers in the future.
The reporter gets extra points for mentioning too that the two studies aren’t directly comparable.
The segment clearly explained the source of this information. Glamour magazine got a group of 7 women to follow some sleep guidelines. The medical correspondent should have taken the opportunity to help viewers understand the limitations of what can be learned by simply examining the experience of 7 individuals.
This sort of ‘evidence’ does not qualify as an objective investigation of how sleep affects body weight.
The story does not provide any evidence whatsoever. It’s not clear if the new drug was studied through randomized trials or some other type of trial design. Readers have no context for the type or strength of the evidence.
The story stated in the lead that patients receiving Provenge lived four months longer without specifying that it was four months longer than placebo, not standard therapy.
The story improperly compares the reported survival advantage of the experimental treatment to the expected survival of men receiving standard chemotherapy, implying the two treatments have been tested head-to-head.
The story also includes speculation that Provenge could be more effective when given earlier in the course of the disease, even though there is no evidence to support the statement.
Quotes at the end of the story from leaders of some patient advocacy groups overstated the evidence of effectiveness, but they seem to accurately reflect the perspective of these activists.
There are multiple ways to search our reviews. You may search by keyword, news source or review rating.