For help understanding medical tests such as these, see our primer: Understanding medical tests: sensitivity, specificity, and positive predictive value.
The story also would have been stronger had it used people-first language to help reduce stigma around obesity.
This is an oversight we see often in news stories reporting on research about new cancer screening tests.
The story would have benefited from an outside expert weighing on the study and its potential ramifications and — more importantly — the potential harms of a false-positive test, which are not insignificant.
Technology isn’t a panacea and news stories should quantify the purported benefits just as they would for drugs and other interventions.
The story makes sweeping statements, without support, favoring the use of ketamine to treat a vast array of ills.
The Guardian story not only misleads readers with a grandiose headline, it fails to provide readers with a balanced discussion of the significant limitations and harms that many experts consider salient when it comes to liquid biopsies.
The headline undermines the overall message of the story with phrasing suggesting a new treatment option: “may offer treatment”
The story should have provided some counter-balance to this viewpoint — is it really a new diagnosis?
The story also makes clear that this finding is not robust enough to change treatment guidelines yet and that other outcomes, such as quality of life improvement are still being analyzed.
Tips & Resources for Analyzing Health Care Claims