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Method effectivein detecting coronary plaque

Rating

2 Star

Method effectivein detecting coronary plaque

Our Review Summary

This piece on a new imaging technique to detect noncalcified arterial plaques is described as a Sun-Sentinel "staff report." In fact it is a word-for-word replication of a press release issued by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, which employs the lead researchers.

It’s difficult to imagine why an editor would try to pass off a press release as a "staff report." Newsroom budgets are tight. But news services usually provide perfectly adequate news reports. Failing that, a house ad for the newspaper or a public service accouncement could have been published instead. Failing even that, the press release could have been described as a press release. 

To label an unedited handout as a staff report is to abuse whatever trust the public has for the Sun-Sentinel. 

The ratings above for the press release, by the way, represent a worthwhile exercise. How does an unedited press release measure up to HealthNewsReview.org criteria? Poorly–but it turns out no worse than previous Sun-Sentinel stories. Of the three articles previously reviewed, two earned only two stars as well. 

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The news release does not report a price for the imaging technique. 

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

The press release fails to quantify the benefit of using this technique for diagnosis of noncalcified plaques.

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The press release fails to account for the possiblity of false positives or false negatives, or other potential harms of using the diagnostic technique.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Not Satisfactory

The study featured in the press release analyzed the efficacy of new imaging techniques to detect noncalcified arterial plaques. These findings were not connected to patient outcomes.

The press release failed to mention this limitation.  And it did not give any caveats about drawing conclusions from a very small pilot study. 

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

The news release does not exaggerate the frequency or severity of undiagnosed noncalcified plaque.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Not Satisfactory

The only source is the press release itself, which is issued by the hospital that employs the researchers involved.  No other sources were consulted for this press release.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Satisfactory

The press release describes the two treatments currently used to detect arterial plaques and heart disease risk–a stress test and angiography.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

The news release says nothing about availability of the experimental procedure. 

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

The press release correctly describes the pairing of voxel analysis and multi-detector computed tomography angiography as novel.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?

Not Satisfactory

The article is a verbatim copy of a press release available via Eureka Alert, from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Total Score: 3 of 10 Satisfactory

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