Health News Review
  • Mar 18 2015

    Dissecting press release puffery – Trudy Lieberman guest post

    The following is a guest post by our blog contributor, Trudy Lieberman. The longer she’s been covering health care issues, the more tuned-in she seems to be about claims she sees in health care public relations. ————————— Back in 2002 Dartmouth researchers Steve Woloshin and Lisa Schwartz concluded in JAMA that press releases from medical journals [...]

  • Mar 4 2015

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

    On 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 [...]

  • Mar 4 2015

    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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  • Mar 3 2015

    A tale of two observational studies – peanuts, coffee, heart health – and how the journals & some journalists handled them differently

    I saw this coming as soon as I saw the BMJ news release about a study published in one of its journals, Heart. The BMJ, which seemed to have turned a corner recently, starting to include at least boilerplate news release language about the limitations of observational studies, dropped the ball on a new one. [...]

  • Feb 23 2015

    Of Mice and Women: News Release Dupes Media on Rodent Fertility Treatment

    The following is a guest post by Kevin Lomangino, managing editor of He tweets as @Klomangino.  ____________________ If you haven’t heard, is paying more attention to news releases these days. Behind the scenes here, we’ve been quietly reviewing health care-related news releases in the same way we review news stories. We’ve banked about a dozen [...]

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  • Jan 30 2015

    Click-bait “science” news: binge-watching-TV analysis

    The NBC website posted a story, “Binge-watching TV helps some people beat the blues.” Not only did the headline make this claim, but the second sentence did, too:  “…it may also be a way for some people who feel depressed or lonely to beat the blues.” Hmmm. Our managing editor, Kevin Lomangino, and I [...]

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  • Jan 14 2015

    Important and rare: A science reporter’s reflections on a controversial story

    On ScienceInsider for the American Association for the Advance of Science, science writer Jennifer Couzin-Frankel writes, “Bad luck and cancer: A science reporter’s reflections on a controversial story.” She looks back at the brouhaha caused by a paper published in Science on January 2, by a news release from Johns Hopkins University (home of the paper’s [...]

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  • Jan 13 2015

    Don’t let news-release-copying journalists off the hook so easily. It’s journalism, not stenography.

    A BBC story keeps the “bad luck and cancer” story alive for at least another day, with a headline, “So is cancer mostly ‘bad luck’ or not?” The story begins: Headline-writers and news bulletin editors around the world just couldn’t get enough of a new study of cancer published on 2 January. “Two thirds of cancers are due [...]

  • Jan 5 2015

    The team is back at work with big plans for 2015

    Starting today, for the first time in 19 months, we have a team in place again to systematically review certain types of health care news stories from a significant but limited number of news organizations. Review who we are and what we do I’ve revised our introductory page about how we rate health care news [...]

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  • Dec 16 2014

    As the worm turns – from scientific paper to news release to bad news coverage

    A journalist-friend asked me to comment on this.   The story, in the Daily Express of the UK, finally got around to explaining that the breathless claims made in the headline and subheadline were based on research in laboratory worms. Microscopic worms. The story states: “Although (the worm in question) is a long way from [...]