NOTE TO READERS: When this project lost substantial funding at the end of 2018, I lost the ability to continue publishing criteria-driven news story reviews and PR news release reviews - once the bread-and-butter of the site going back to 2006. The 3,200 archived reviews, while still educational, are getting old and difficult for me to technically maintain on the back end of the website. So I am announcing that I plan to remove these reviews from the site by April 1, 2021. The blog and the toolkit - two of the most popular features on the site - will remain. If you wish to peruse the reviews before they disappear, please do so by the end of March 2021. After that date you may still be able to access them via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine - https://archive.org/web/.

Five-star Friday – backs, brains, bedtime & more

5-stars 300x300Another of our attempts to shine a light on stories or news releases we reviewed that were highly-rated by our review team. We can’t review everything we see, but these were some we were able to assess using our 10 systematic criteria.

News stories:

  • 5-star score for the Wall Street Journal‘s “New Study Questions Use of Whole-Brain Radiation to Treat Cancer.”  Our reviewers thought the story did a good job explaining that whole-brain radiation treatment can have side-effects — such as seizures and memory loss — that outweigh the potential survival benefits.
  • 4-star scores for:

NPR: “Lost Posture: Why Indigenous Cultures Don’t Have Back Pain.”  This was the first story review for Dr. James Rickert of the Society for Patient Centered Orthopedic Surgery, who recently joined our team of reviewer-contributors.

Philadelphia Inquirer:  “Can brain games change behaviors long term?

New  York Times: Austin Frakt’s first-person account on the Upshot blog, “The Evidence Points to a Better Way to Fight Insomnia.”

News release:

Links to other health care news gems that we didn’t write about earlier:

  • A piece by Peter Lurie et al in The BMJ: “Comparison of content of FDA letters not approving applications for new drugs and associated public announcements from sponsors.” Summary: The FDA issues complete response letters to drug companies when the agency determines that it cannot approve their marketing applications. Drug companies might choose, but are not required, to issue press releases indicating that FDA has issued a complete response letter. These press releases are often the only public source of information describing FDA’s decisions and rationales for not approving marketing applications. In many cases, press releases are not issued in response to complete response letters. When they are issued, they omit most of the reasons the FDA cited for denying applications. Press releases are incomplete substitutes for the detailed information contained in complete response letters.”

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