5-star Friday • Three pieces of health care journalism gold

In 1945–a year when good news was clearly needed–Byron Nelson wowed and delighted by winning 11 consecutive golf tournaments. It’s the longest winning streak in professional golf. No one has come close since. This past month (a month, you could argue, that good health care news was sorely needed) I’ve been wowed and delighted by another streak worth […]

5 2/23/2017

MD Anderson Cancer Center’s IBM Watson project fails, and so did the journalism related to it

We often call out overly optimistic news coverage of drugs and devices. But information technology is another healthcare arena where uncritical media narratives can cause harm by raising false hopes and allowing costly and unproven investments to proceed without scrutiny. A case in point is the recent collapse of M.D. Anderson Cancer Center’s ambitious venture […]

1 2/22/2017

Just say no to news stories about ‘post election stress disorder’

I had hoped it would be tongue-in-cheek, but Kaiser Health News and CNN very earnestly brought us a trend story this week on the apparent newfound epidemic of “post election stress disorder.” Hinging mostly on anecdotal statements and this November essay that ran in Psychology Today, the CNN story says “Mental health professionals around the […]


Hibernation for cancer: ‘You wake up the patients and they are cured.’ Say what now?

A story made the U.K. news rounds this week that probably should have been relegated to the editing room floor: Putting cancer patients in hibernation could tackle tumors — New Scientist Doctors hope cancer could be CURED in just ten years by putting patients into ‘hibernation’ for just a week — The Sun Put patients in hibernation to destroy […]


Licorice & pregnancy…caffeine & longer life: Distorted news stories about observational research

Step back. Breathe deeply. Join us in sucking in some recent research news coverage. Coughing on cacophony of coffee/caffeine news USA Today reported, “Caffeine may lead to a longer life.” Or, it may not, the story could just as easily–and accurately– have reported. Instead, it makes a leap to this news-you-can use assertion: “Perk up. That daily cup […]


‘Are YOUR lips attractive?’ Clickbait science fuels clickbait journalism

Cancer recurrence. Antibiotic resistance. Heart failure. Attractive lips. All have been the subject of recently published medical research–and subsequent news coverage. Yes, you read that right: The quest for attractive lips is on par with solving heart failure, at least when it comes to deserving a big splashy news release. That’s because apparently, up until last […]


Headline vs. study: Cancer breath, common weeds, and coffee forever!

This is our third go-round looking for disconnects between what a headline implies or emphasizes, and what the substance of the referenced study really is. And we are beginning to see some themes that almost invariably raise our eyebrows, such as headlines that make factual claims from what are clearly preliminary results. Or headlines that–usually in a […]

1 2/17/2017

Vitamin D prevents colds? News stories turn blind eye to limitations of sunshine vitamin study

Vitamin D is a hot research topic, but the public gets a lot of mixed messages about its usefulness and safety. Case in point: One of the latest studies, published Wednesday, Feb. 15, analyzed results from 25 previous trials and found that vitamin D supplementation might help prevent respiratory infections in some people who have low […]

1 2/16/2017

VIDEO • Tracing the origins of Obamacare confusion: Study highlights role of ‘politicized’ local TV news coverage

During the first open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act (ACA; also called “Obamacare”) back in 2013-2014 most people were getting information regarding the law’s health insurance options from local television news, but that news coverage was highly politicized and rarely included information consumers needed to make an informed choice. A study published today in the  American Journal of Public […]

1 2/15/2017

Podcast • Q&A: Two veteran views on health care reform | A politician & a journalist

Attempts at health care reform in the United States go back over a century. If you wanted to find just one politician and one journalist who are well versed in both the history of those reform efforts, as well as what might be needed moving forward, you would be hard pressed to do better than Dave […]


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