Understanding medical tests: A new addition to our toolkit addressing sensitivity, specificity, and other core concepts

Hardly a day goes by without some media outlet making an impressive-sounding claim about the accuracy of a new medical test. “Prostate cancer breakthrough as UK team develops more accurate test“ “New Breath and Urine Tests May Detect Early Breast Cancer More Accurately” “Portable device detects severe stroke in seconds with 92% accuracy” But as […]

13 6/20/2018

HealthNewsReview.org’s 12-year run will end with some nagging questions unanswered

It appears that this unique project’s span of more than 12 years of public service to journalism and to the general public will end in December when HealthNewsReview.org ceases publication. Our current funding ends then with no replacement funding in sight, and I will slip into retirement. I will still post an occasional piece. And […]


News outlets focus on one dramatic outcome. But did researchers omit data from hundreds in clinical trial?

Last week we reported on ‘One cancer patient’s dramatic response to immunotherapy…’ and highlighted what we thought was a lack of healthy skepticism in the extensive (and mostly fawning) news coverage. Most importantly we wanted to show that by highlighting the dramatic response of a single patient — without cautioning readers that just one dramatic […]


‘Unconscionable’: Cleveland Clinic tweets misleading scans promoting experimental vaccine for incurable brain cancer

A tweet from the Cleveland Clinic showing before-and-after brain scans of a man who received an experimental immunotherapy vaccine drew more than 1,000 likes and shares last week: Sure looks as if the vaccine wiped out that tumor, eh? UK tabloid the Daily Mail snapped it up, reporting: “A revolutionary injection to treat the rare […]

1 6/14/2018

Headlines raise alarm over prescription drug depression risk. But who qualifies as depressed?

Hard to tell if these headlines are using fear-mongering as clickbait, or simply riding the latest wave of stories reporting on the escalating suicide rates in the U.S.: Millions are taking drugs, including birth control, that increase the risk of suicide (Quartz) Study: Adults Use Medications That Can Lead to Depression and Suicide (US News […]

2 6/13/2018

Can’t say we didn’t warn you: Study finds popular health news stories overstate the evidence

A new study confirms something we here at HealthNewsReview.org have been emphasizing for many years: Health news stories often overstate the evidence from a new study, inaccurately claiming that one thing causes another — as in drinking alcohol might help you live longer, facial exercises may keep your cheeks perky, and that diet soda might be a […]


Cancer misinformation in various media irks breast cancer patients in US & UK

When we recently announced our new series on patient harms from misleading media, I heard from Robert O’Connor, PhD, research head for the Irish Cancer Society.  He wanted to add an international perspective to what we were seeing about cancer misinformation in the U.S., and he wanted to help bring more patient voices into the […]

3 6/11/2018

Pathologists predicted the Theranos debacle, but their voices were missing from most news coverage

Theranos, the fraudulent laboratory company whose rise and fall is recounted in a recent exposé entitled “Bad Blood,” was a darling of investors and news outlets for a more than a decade. The company suffered a rapid change of fate in late 2015 after Wall Street Journal reporter John Carreyrou revealed the shaky underpinnings of […]


CBS: “breakthrough” on supposed opioid alternative not even tested in humans yet

The CBS Morning News packed so much hyperbolic punch into one piece, it was breathtaking.  They promoted the piece as “only seen on CBS This Morning,” and thank goodness for that.   Keep in mind that the story admitted that the compound hasn’t been tested in humans yet.  In that context, let these claims soak […]


5-Star Friday: Celebrating some slow journalism

We’ve just wrapped up a busy week of scrutinizing the news coverage of the world’s largest cancer meeting. In many ways medical meetings symbolize what is functional and dysfunctional about our current health care system. On the plus side, you’ll find a host of incredibly talented and committed providers eager to learn and eager to […]


Tips & Resources for Analyzing Health Care Claims

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