5 3/17/2015

The headline I wish I’d seen about the new PCSK9 cholesterol drugs

The following is a guest post by Kevin Lomangino, managing editor of HealthNewsReview.org. He tweets as @Klomangino.    “New Drugs Cut Heart Risks by One Percentage Point: Study” That’s the headline I didn’t see from any stories yesterday about two new cholesterol drug studies presented at the American College of Cardiology meeting. While it might sound like something […]

30 3/16/2015

Water fluoridation and ADHD: Newsweek wades into the quagmire

The following is a guest blog post by Alan Cassels, a pharmaceutical policy researcher at the University of Victoria and the author of Seeking Sickness: Medical Screening and the Misguided Hunt for Disease (Greystone, 2012). The opinions are his; you are welcome to your own. No randomized trial has ever been done to prove if adding […]

1 3/15/2015

A Bridge Over Diagnosis – James McCormack video

With the Lown Institute’s 3rd annual Right Care conference still fresh in mind from last week in San Diego, I’m pleased to re-distribute James McCormack’s latest video, “A Bridge Over Diagnosis.”   I’ve posted past McCormack parodies: Choosing Wisely will make you happy Bohemian Polypharmacy —————— Tweet Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/garyschwitzer https://twitter.com/healthnewsrevu and on […]

3 3/12/2015

“Acting as though statistical significance implies truth isn’t even approximately correct” – part 3 of a series

Is a P-value of 0.05 sacrosanct? As I asked trusted sources about statistical significance, one road led clearly to Dr. Donald Berry of MD Anderson Cancer Center. He is a fellow of the American Statistical Association.  If you’ve heard his name, it may have been in the context of breast cancer.  Since 1990 he has […]

3 3/11/2015

Are P-values above .05 really just statistical noise? Part 2 of 3

When a journalist asked me a question about statistical significance recently, it opened my eyes to how little attention I’ve given the topic on this site.  And as I started looking around, I found that there are some gems to guide understanding, but they’re not widely recognized. Let’s look at a news example first. 9 […]

4 3/10/2015

Statistically significant: where to draw the line? Part 1 of series to help journalists/readers

I’ve decided it’s time to address statistical significance –  because I don’t think many journalists understand this concept very well. At a very high, introductory level, you could say that it’s an attempt to judge the probability that something we think we have found is due only to random chance. (Addendum 2 hours later:  I should […]


Lown Institute Right Care conference: we’re treating lab results – not patients

I’ll be attending the Lown Institute’s Right Care conference in San Diego next week.  Come back to this blog for future blog posts and maybe even some video interviews from this event. On the Institute’s website, I found a Q & A with Allen Frances, MD, professor emeritus and former chair of psychiatry at Duke. […]


How much overdetection in cancer screening is acceptable?

A paper in The BMJ, “People’s willingness to accept overdetection in cancer screening: population survey,” paints a picture of how difficult is the challenge of trying to inform and educate patients and health care consumers about over detection. The study tried to address what level of overdetection people would find acceptable in screening for bowel, […]

4 3/4/2015

And, in the mice are not people department of TIME.com……….

On TIME.com today, “New Hormone Discovered That Curbs Weight Gain, Diabetes Just Like Exercise.” Here’s a fun little reader survey: Should the fact that this research was only done in mice be: in the first sentence? or only in the last sentence (which is where it appeared) ? Ideally should the story link to: the […]


BMJ back on bad track with its news releases: now gout & Alzheimer’s

Biostatistician Dr. Donald Berry of MD Anderson Cancer Center wrote to me recently, “My assessment of the landscape of observational studies, including much of epidemiology, ranges from bleak to parched earth.” That should get your attention about why we – all of us who communicate about research findings – need to do a better job […]


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