Note to our followers: Our nearly 13-year run of daily publication of new content on came to a close at the end of 2018. Publisher Gary Schwitzer and other contributors may post new articles periodically. But all of the 6,000+ articles we have published contain lessons to help you improve your critical thinking about health care interventions. And those will be still be alive on the site for a couple of years.

Canadian paper bites on pharma-funded advocacy

A Vancouver Sun story is a good example of an imbalanced story that fails to address health policy issues with context and completeness. The story reports on an advocacy group report and, in so doing, takes a flawed advocacy stance itself. The story begins: “Cancer patients are increasingly having to pay for important new drugs […]

10 2/5/2007

Restless viewers over NBC restless leg "story"

NBC News anchor Brian Williams delivered an awkward and unusual story lead-in last Wednesday, one which has touched off a firestorm of criticism of him even on his own blog. Williams said, on the air: “If you watch this newscast with any frequency, then you’ve seen it – this ad playing behind me here on […]


CNN's "House Call" Makes Some Bad Calls

You get a half hour on an international news network to report on health news and you use it to: 1. Tell people if you want to avoid the flu, “try to avoid getting too close to sick people.” 2. Feature a doctor who lost 70 pounds by using lots of hot sauce, even though […]


Too Brief To Matter

It doesn’t take one thousand words to write an excellent story.  We’ve given our top five-star scores to some stories that used only 500 or so words.  One recent example:  “Less acid, brittler hips? Some heartburn drugs may be behind an increase in fractures,” 566-word story by Los Angeles Times.  But stories in the 100-300 […]


Sign of the times at the Star Tribune?

I have not written about the surprise December 26 sale of the Minneapolis Star Tribune to Avista Capital Partners. Clearly it was another sign of tough economic times in the newspaper industry. Today’s health section of the paper may be another sign of a paper limping through its routine. It’s a weekly health section and […]


Lump of coal for heart stocking story

Two years ago, I wrote about how the Minneapolis Star Tribune had acted like a cheerleader on behalf of a local company whose product was a mesh-like sock to go around the heart in hopes of combating heart failure. Over two straight days, the paper reported on the company’s trial results with the sock. The […]


Absolute vs. relative risk: an overlooked statistic

I teach my classes – even undergrads – that if I could change just one thing about the way in which research news is communicated to the public – for the sake of public understanding – it would be to include absolute risk/benefit data in each story or each message – not just relative risk/benefit […]


Trying to serve two masters in health journalism

Competition among news organizations is a good thing. Readers and viewers already get far too many reports that are regurgitated in similar fashion from the same source. But big media companies increasingly are going in the other direction: hiring big media names to serve two masters simultaneously. The latest is CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who, […]


Scores on Eight Lung Cancer Screening Stories

In the last Publisher’s Note, I wrote about our reviews of six stories by six different news organizations on a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine about CAT scan screening for lung cancer in smokers. After that Note was published, we posted two more reviews of other stories on that study. U.S. […]


USA Today Weekend special "breakthrough" edition

The HealthBehaviorBlog takes a poke at the most recent USA Today Weekend edition, which offers “13 scientific breakthroughs that could change everything” in medical care. The blog post reads: “Although the newspaper offers a blithe caveat that “there’s no guarantee, of course,” nine of the 13 magic bullets in the article were basically ads for […]


Tips & Resources for Analyzing Health Care Claims

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