This story effectively conveys the devastation of spinal cord injuries and correctly identifies stem cell therapy as an experimental and unproven treatment, but its thrust that the therapy “shows promise” is misleading; its efficacy has yet to be supported by rigorous trials.
The story relies heavily on an anecdote, tracking one patient’s experience with the experimental procedure, but provides a good overview of the surgical treatment options available for women with uterine fibroids.
By including a discussion of costs, harms, and alternatives, readers are left with a pretty good idea of what this new intervention is about.
This story is problematic on several levels–it appears to be little more than a rehash of a news release, making a passing mention to successful “pre-clinical results” but offering no specifics.
Given the nature of the research–unpublished and coming directly from a pharmaceutical company–an outside source would have made this story stronger.
The study was meant to establish the safety of the chemical for future research–and not its potential to cure depression. The story didn’t make that clear.
The story would have benefited from a jolt of skepticism as it examines the challenge of applying a treatment that works for some diseases to an altogether different medical condition.
The story includes important cautions from a skeptical surgeon, but the prominence of the surgeon and institution that are actively marketing this procedure results in a story that implies greater benefits and fewer risks than there is evidence to support.
Tips for Understanding Studies