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Podcast: The polluted stream of health care information

Michael Joyce is a writer-producer with and tweets as @mlmjoyce

As health care information flows from its source to the general public there are several opportunities for contamination.

That contamination is something we document every day at imbalanced, inaccurate media messages that mislead consumers about health care.

But who is polluting our health care information? And how?

In this podcast we speak with four people intimately involved in understanding and explaining not only how this happens, but what we can do about it.

These experts will address topics such as the influence of promotional news releases, the impact of financial conflicts of interest, and the role of patient advocacy groups who don’t always advocate in patients’ best interests.

In order of their appearance in the podcast, here’s more on the people featured:

“E-patient Dave” deBronkart

Consultant and speaker on patient engagement


TED Talk

A bit more about Dave’s cancer


Lisa Schwartz MD & Steven Woloshin MD

General internists who research overdiagnosis, risk communication, and drug marketing

The Dartmouth Institute of Health Policy and Clinical Practice

2018 BMJ essay on overdiagnosis and overtreatment

Their work on patient risk awareness


John Fauber

Investigative medical reporter

A list of his recent work

Our 2016 podcast featuring Fauber

A 2014 profile of Fauber in the Columbia Journalism review


Virginia Moyer MD

Former chair of US Preventive Services Task Force; expert in evidence-based medicine and overdiagnosis

Time Magazine: 2011 “People Who Mattered” profile

2016 Annals of Internal Medicine opinion: “Is it time for the USPSTF to inform — but not determine — coverage?

Moyer weighs in on osteoporosis guidelines in this 2018 article from

Some other resources related to the podcast:

Our publisher Gary Schwitzer’s opinion piece on the polluted stream for The BMJ.’s ongoing series: Problematic PR releases.

More from Woloshin and Schwartz on media coverage of scientific meetings.

John Fauber’s writing on industry-funded continuing medical education courses

Some of our recent takes on publication bias: Here and here.

We’ve written extensively on the impact of patient advocacy groups.

A fascinating article on guideline authorship by professional societies by John Ioannidis, MD

You can find a full listing of all our podcasts HERE


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