7/14/2006

Consumer-driven Health Care Marketing Disguised As News

The Star Tribune bought a UnitedHealth Group news release hook, line and sinker this week. United announced the findings of a three-year study of “consumer-driven health care plans.” It reported “that the cost to employers per member in a high-deductible plan declined 3 to 5 percent, while increasing 8 to 10 percent for others.” The […]

7/6/2006

How drug companies squelch negative findings

Scott Hensley of the Wall Street Journal published an interesting piece last week headlined, “Quest for youth: how research on anti-aging pill lost momentum.” In it, he writes; “Four years after Pfizer Inc. ended a clinical test of an experimental anti-aging pill and stopped its development for that use, the results of the study still […]

6/29/2006

Important questions about medical errors study

Don Berwick and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement have done important work in addressing health care quality issues. But they may have overstepped the boundaries of evidence with a recent study that drew a lot of news coverage, claiming that hospitals they worked with saved over 122,000 lives by cutting down on errors and improving […]

6/22/2006

Gannett stuffs newspapers with "HealthSmart" ad section

The Gannett Company has sold a 32-page issue of an insert entitled “USA Weekend HealthSmart” to drug company advertisers and to newspapers across the country. The New York Times reports that the insert appeared in 76 newspapers with an estimated circulation of 7.5 million. I was one. I am no smarter for having scanned the […]

6/21/2006

CNN's questionable screening test advice

At least CNN doesn’t discriminate based on gender when it gives screening test advice that clashes with evidence-based guidelines. Back in February, CNN’s Sanjay Gupta gave screening test recommendations to men at various ages. The advice flew in the face of unbiased, authoritative guidelines of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). Then on Mother’s […]

6/20/2006

More caution about news from scientific meetings

Dartmouth’s Steve Woloshin and Lisa Schwartz have studied the pitfalls of news coverage based on scientific meetings. Their new work, in the Medical Journal of Australia, looked at print and broadcast news stories based on research reports at five major scientific meetings on heart disease, AIDS, cancer, neuroscience and radiology. Results: “34% of the 187 […]

6/19/2006

TIME magazine fails to disclose glaring conflict of interest

What ethical standards still exist at Time magazine? Or do they exist and they’re just being ignored? The Center for Science in the Public Interest points out that this week’s Time magazine includes a column by Dr. Andrew Weil touting the benefits of fish oil supplements. CSPI says, “The column was sparked by a recent […]

6/18/2006

CNN Screening Advice for Women

CNN has been giving viewers screening test advice that does not reflect the best medical evidence. In my last Publisher’s Note I pointed out how CNN’s on-air advice conflicted with evidence-based guidelines when it advised men in their 40s, 50s and 60s about screening tests they should have. That segment was broadcast in February. In […]

5/19/2006

Nurse criticizes Strib for promoting cancer magic bullet

First, this is not “beat up on the Star Tribune week.” There’s no agenda here. Sometimes events and patterns unfold before one’s eyes. On Monday, in my “Proportionality in Journalism” entry, I wrote about Mother’s Day weekend stories in several media – “endless weapy stories about breast cancer. But few hard issue-oriented stories about breast […]

5/12/2006

You can tell it’s TV sweeps-ratings time

As my research has shown, whenever ratings-sweeps periods roll around, television news departments miraculously find time to cure the problem of not having enough time to devote to health news. In my market, Minneapolis-Saint Paul, the May sweeps period has been filled with tears, joy and new hope surrounding dramatic breakthroughs and promising developments for […]

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