Dr. Valentin Fuster of Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, and editor of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, cites our work in his editorial, “Journalists and Researchers: Equal Responsibility in Protecting the Public.“
Excerpts of his editorial:
“Over the past 10 months in these Editor’s Pages, I have often encouraged my cardiologist colleagues to observe our responsibilities as teachers, leaders, and caregivers. However, in this Editor’s Page, I turn my attention to different guardians of society: the media. As physicians, we are required to take an oath to “do no harm” first and foremost. Even though journalists may seem removed from this responsibility to patients, they publish stories that could affect the health choices of hundreds or thousands of individuals.
Accordingly, I would like to suggest that journalists and researchers must share equally in shouldering the burden of responsibility to improve appropriate communication about basic and clinical research.
First, there is an obligation on the part of the researchers not to inflate the importance of their findings. …
Second, researchers should take some responsibility for the creation of the press release about their research, which is written by the media or press relations department at their hospital or society. …
I recognize, however, that some journalists are not trained in statistics or clinical data; therefore, the physicians who serve as their sources need to be particularly meticulous and take the time to properly educate reporters about the data. This is the exact juncture where journalists and researchers can come together to equally share the responsibility of properly informing the public about new health research.”
Regarding his second bullet point about news releases, we will soon – perhaps as early as next week – begin publishing our systematic, criteria-driven reviews of health care related news releases.
Regarding his final point about journalists not trained in statistics or clinical data, I will again, for the 9th straight year, help conduct a workshop at the Association of Health Care Journalists annual conference trying to help journalists on some of these issues. “How to accurately report on medical research findings,” will be offered on Thursday, April 23, at 9 a.m. at the conference.
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