ABC misses the whole point of the A1C diabetes testing story

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They said the A1C test was new, but then said it’s already widely available. Huh?

That’s how unhelpful the ABC News story was on the proposed broader use of the A1C diabetes test.

They never once stated that this is a proposed new application of an old test – proposed by an international committee of diabetes experts.

One print story we read had no problem summarizing the news succinctly when it led:

“A blood test physicians use regularly to check blood sugar levels in people with diabetes is now being recommended as a tool to diagnose the disease.”

Was that so difficult? Would that gobble up too much precious TV airtime?

Instead, much of the airtime was wasted on meaningless people-on-the-street interviews – a hackneyed technique that doesn’t employ much in the way of sound journalism. Asking people whether they knew if they had diabetes is not directly related to the news about the expanded use of the A1C test – UNLESS those people had been tested in conventional ways and were left uncertain.

But the story also:

• failed to compare the A1C with existing plasma glucose or glucose tolerance tests;
• failed to describe the sensitivity or specificity of the test;
• failed to describe the cost implications of this proposed broader use.

So, all in all, this story didn’t help viewer understanding very much. It just fed the “newer is better, more is better” mentality without scrutinizing – or even apparently understanding – what was before them.

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