Health News Review
  • Feb 6 2013

    An update on how we die in the U.S.

    My mother died last summer one month after being diagnosed with an ugly stomach cancer.  The oncologist she saw only once handled the discussion of options masterfully.  My mom chose no further explorations, no treatment beyond pain control, and spent her last month at home, with hospice care and with up to 15 helping family [...]

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  • Jan 22 2013

    UK citizen’s jury advises on communication about the benefits and harms of breast screening

    Two months ago, I read on the BMJ website “Citizens’ jury disagrees over whether screening leaflet should put reassurance before accuracy.” I’ve been following some of the controversies in the British National Health Service’s breast screening program for some time. An example here. I asked Angela Coulter, PhD, to write a guest blog post about [...]

  • Jan 15 2013

    Doctors who order PSA blood test without discussing it with patients

    A new analysis published in the Annals of Family Medicine,”Primary Care Physicians’ Use of an Informed Decision-Making Process for Prostate Cancer Screening,” found that 24% of primary care physicians who responded to a survey said they ordered screening without discussing it with patients. How’s that for shared decision-making? Fewer than 48% of those surveyed said [...]

  • Jan 11 2013

    Homer Simpson, Oncologists, Patients & Math

    2nd time this week I’ve linked to a Peter Ubel blog post.  This one was as irresistible as a doughut is to Homer Simpson. And why is this a shared decision-making issue?  Ubel writes: “Why all this talk about math with patients?  Shouldn’t all this number stuff be handled by physicians?  Shouldn’t chemotherapy decisions be [...]

  • Jan 8 2013

    Dr. Peter Ubel asks: Why No Uproar Over Ovarian Cancer Screening Guidelines?

    Peter Ubel, M.D. is a physician and behavioral scientist at Duke University, and the author of Critical Decisions: How You and Your Doctor Can Make the Right Medical Choices Together. I don’t know how I missed his November blog post that asked the question above, but I now know that it appeared on his own [...]

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  • Jan 1 2013

    NPR on breast cancer – what we learned in 2012

    Read or listen to Richard Knox’s piece. Among several strong elements in his story, he profiles Shannon Brownlee’s decision to stop having mammograms: Health writer Shannon Brownlee of the New America Foundation says the issue is a prime example of what she calls American medicine’s tendency to overdiagnose and overtreat disease. She’s the author of [...]

  • Dec 20 2012

    Suggestions for journalists on reporting Dartmouth Atlas data

    Each time the Dartmouth Atlas issues a new report, there’s a spike in news coverage about the work of the Atlas team.  That’s the way news usually works:  an announcement, an event – something is spoonfed journalists and they respond. Especially in these more difficult financial times in the news industry when story quotas remain [...]

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  • Dec 7 2012

    My talk to Knight Science Journalism Program at MIT’s Medical Evidence Bootcamp for Journalists

    For what I believe was the fourth time in the past five years, Phil Hilts of the Knight Science Journalism Program at MIT asked me to speak to their Medical Evidence Boot Camp.  It happened this week in Cambridge. I was honored and delighted to be on the same program with Drs. Steven Woloshin and [...]

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  • Dec 6 2012

    Incomplete MPR reporting on Mayo prostate cancer scan

    I’m a big fan of Minnesota Public Radio and usually a big fan of their health care news coverage. They’ve done some bold and innovative coverage in recent years. But when I heard (on the radio) and saw (online) MPR’s story, “Prostate cancer scan advance helps Mayo doctors with early detection,” I saw some red [...]

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  • Nov 29 2012

    One woman’s search for a “good” colonoscopy

    On WBUR Boston’s Healthcare $avvy: The Health Care Consumer Experience website, Martha Bebinger is determined to be more informed before she goes in for her second colonoscopy (the other one was 10 or so years ago).  So she’s posted a list of questions she wants answered and she’s asking for suggestions for amendments to the [...]