This story covered a randomized clinical trial which was stopped because of excess deaths seen in a group of high risk diabetics receiving more intensive blood sugar management as compared to a group of high risk diabetics whose blood sugar was not as tightly managed. Several experts interviewed for the story commented that this outcome was unexpected.
An important message for readers is that the importance of a clinical endpoint (such as death, in this case) is more meaningful than an intermediary or surrogate endpoint (such as blood sugar level or glycosylated hemoglobin). It’s also a good example of the importance of randomized clinical trials.
The story provided:
There was no cost information provided; it is both relevant and available. The medications used to more tightly control sugar levels are expensive.
The story differentiated the two groups as having been treated to have blood sugar levels like ‘the average person with diabetes’ and ‘closer to those of someone without diabetes.’ We would wish for more specific information about what those blood sugar levels were.
The point of the story was not that blood sugar levels ought not be treated, but rather what the goal ought to be in order to maximize the benefit of treatment.
This story was about the new finding that more intensive management of sugar levels in high risk patients increases mortality risk. Differences in death rates were given in absolute terms.
The story did a good job of providing sufficient detail to help readers understand the magnitude of the difference in deaths between the two groups. Although the story didn’t specify that this was a randomized clnical trial – and why that’s important – it can be inferred from the otherwise detailed description of how the study was done.
The story did not engage in overt disease mongering.
Comments from interviews with several individuals knowledgeable about the trial (i.e. cardiologist, people at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute) were included in this story.
While the story stated that the blood sugar levels of those in the group attempting more intensive management were lower than those of typical patients, the story did not provide context for readers to know how their treatment actually would compare to those in the study.
The story stated that the medications used in this study where those that are commonly used for lowering blood sugar.
The story is about the results from a newly released study.
Does not appear to rely on a press release.