Health News Review

This short story about a small study doesn’t offer readers much of the necessary context to judge the significance of this potentially new treatment for tennis elbow.

Our Review Summary

We would have liked to have seen information on costs and the potential risks of the treatment. The story could have benefited from a deeper analysis of the evidence and from the use of some independent experts.

We wonder if this was rushed onto the web because there were a number of copy errors:

  • "Analogous blood injections… is used" – should be "are used"
  • "Whole blood treatment is a god alternative" – should be "good alternative"

Why This Matters

Even when writing about a topic as seemingly mundane as tennis elbow, stories should avail themselves of a broad range of expertise. Were this treatment to become widely available, it could be a boon for chronic pain sufferers, but we can’t make that assessment based on the limited amount of information provided here.


Criteria

Not Satisfactory

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The story made no mention of costs. Given that platelet-rich plasma already is being used for a variety of conditions, including tennis elbow, it would not have been difficult to get a range of costs. A basic Google search reveals a number of sources declaring that insurance plans do not typically cover plasma injections. This all would have been good information for the story.

Satisfactory

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Satisfactory

The benefits are essentially quantified, but we thought the story could have gone further in helping readers understand what the numbers mean.

Not Satisfactory

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

There’s no attempt to quantify harms here. After reading this story, one might assume that there’s nothing risky about this procedure.

Not Satisfactory

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Not Satisfactory

The story does say that the study was in 28 patients, but that’s about all the information readers are given about the potential limitations of the study.

Satisfactory

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

The story nicely avoids disease mongering and, right in the lead, explains that this treatment would work best in patients "where other treatment methods have failed".

Not Satisfactory

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Not Satisfactory

The story only relied on a single source.

Satisfactory

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Satisfactory

The story mentions alternatives, which is why we give it credit here. It could have done a better job explaining why all other treatment methods should be exhausted, short of surgery, before turning to plasma injections.

Satisfactory

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Satisfactory
The story could have been more clear about the availability of the treatment, but it did mention that research is ongoing. It said, "Thanasas added that further studies are needed to see how and when the PRP therapy is most effective, adding that he and his colleagues are about to start trials of PRP therapy in which different concentrations of white blood cells are used to see how this affects the regeneration of tendons."
 
Not Satisfactory

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Not Satisfactory

The true novelty is never established.

Not Applicable

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?

Not Applicable

The story does not rely on a news release.

Total Score: 4 of 9 Satisfactory


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