4 11/25/2015

Informed patients need one thing not provided in SPRINT trial news: what were the absolute benefit/harm numbers?

On November 9th, the New England Journal of Medicine published SPRINT (Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial) comparing “intensive” blood pressure lowering (targeting <120 mm HG systolic) against standard therapy, (<140 mm HG) and came to pretty definitive conclusions: “SPRINT now provides evidence of benefits for an even lower systolic blood-pressure target than that currently recommended […]

5 11/19/2015

Media ignore impact of unsafe medical devices — unless the company CEO is a celebrity billionaire like Elizabeth Holmes

James Stewart’s recent New York Times story about Elizabeth Holmes, the rising star in the high-tech galaxy turned media celeb, raises an important press question in this time of the 21st Century Cures Act. Are the media interested in covering problematic and potentially unsafe drugs, devices, and other medical products only when celebrity is involved? […]

16 11/18/2015

Joe Nocera’s contentious e-cigarette crusade

We’re very pleased to feature the following guest post by Paul Raeburn, a journalist and blogger whose writing has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Discover, Scientific American, and other leading outlets. He’s also the author of five books, including the forthcoming The Game Theorist’s Guide To Parenting: How the Science of Strategic Thinking Can […]


Trends in health care news releases that lead to public confusion

This past week provided plenty of examples of why we think it’s important to review health care news releases. Since our news release review service debuted in April we’ve reviewed 83 such releases and we hope to hit 100 by year’s end. Just one week’s worth of these reviews highlighted four distinct problems in news releases […]


Five-Star Friday: A sweet story from TIME, plus Philadelphia Inquirer, NYT

This week we’re highlighting three recent stories that we rated as excellent with 5 stars: Alice Park’s report for TIME: “Sugar Is Definitely Toxic, A New Study Says“ Jane Brody’s (NYT) “IUDs and Hormonal Implants Remain Underused Contraceptives“ “Penn study: Pay patients to take their pills” by Tom Avril of the Philadelphia Inquirer Reviewers gave […]

2 11/12/2015

Podcast: A Finn with a bone to pick about osteoporosis screening & treatment

With article headlines such as “Osteoporosis: the emperor has no clothes,” Dr. Teppo Järvinen appears on the international “Too Much Medicine” stage with his concerns about the way osteoporosis is diagnosed and treated. Järvinen is an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist in Helsinki, Finland. I interviewed him at the Preventing Overdiagnosis 2015 conference at the National Institutes of […]

3 11/10/2015

“Disingenuous denial” of medical research conflicts of interest

A Viewpoint article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), “Confluence, Not Conflict of Interest: Name Change Necessary,” caught the eye of Dr. Richard Lehman, who writes the wonderful journal review blog for The BMJ. First, an excerpt from the JAMA piece to give you a sense of what it’s about: “The term […]

2 11/9/2015

Do published SPRINT study results live up to premature NIH news release hype?

After the NIH announced preliminary findings from the much anticipated SPRINT (Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial) study on managing hypertension in September it received some criticism from the medical community and health journalists for its failure to provide key details about the research. Missing were the evidence, data and the names of the drugs that were […]

2 11/5/2015

Pointless CNN piece hypes the health effects of being left-handed

The following guest post is by Matt Shipman, a public information officer at North Carolina State University and frequent story and news release reviewer for the site. He writes the Communication Breakdown blog for Scilogs.com and is author of Handbook for Science Public Information Officers (University of Chicago Press, 2015). This is his first of what we […]

2 11/4/2015

Mayo spins rosy tale on Cologuard cancer screen — ignoring costs, false-positives and other crucial context

When we review news releases, we aim to put claims into broader context as well as observe whether the release describes the proposed intervention’s limitations and costs, among others elements, just as we do with news stories. These key components were noticeably absent from a recent news release issued by the Mayo Clinic titled “Mayo […]


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