In the space of less than 600 words, this story meets most of the criteria for a well constructed and objective report. With some minor exceptions, the story provides readers with the results of a published research study in a balanced way and, importantly, places the new findings into context with previous research and available treatment options. Issues could be taken with several minor points (the severity and incidence of sexual dysfunction related to the antidepressants and the drop out rate) but overall this is a well written, brief yet concise and complete overview of a rather complicated published research.
There is no discussion of costs of treatment.
The story provided data on the percentage of women who reported improvement. Also – the story was very clear about the scope of the benefit.
The story provided data on the side effects of the treatment.
The story presented sufficient information about the size of the study and the study design. However, itt would have been desirable to note the study was based on an intention to treat analysis. About 20% of the subjects in each arm of the study did not complete the 8 weeks of treatments either due to lack of effectiveness or simply lost to follow up.
While the story doesn’t commit overt diseas-mongering, it does provide an unverified statistic (more than half) on the incidence of sexual dysfunction while on antidepressant treatment. What is unstated is that the incidence of sexual dysfunction related to depression is as high in some series. While the SSRI antidepressants are associated with sexual dysfunction the true incidence related solely to drug treatment is unclear. A clarifying statement related to the incidence of dysfunction related to the underlying disorder would have been helpful.
In addition to relevant information from a company spokesperson and the lead author of the study reported on, the story included quotes from two individuals with relevant expertise who had no ties to the study.
The story explained that sexual side effects were among the reasons why women may discontinue use of anti-depressant medication. The story mentioned a few other means for managing this medication side effect other than the medication that was the focus of the piece.
The story did not explicitly explain that Viagra is a prescription medication which is FDA approved for treating erectile dysfunction. However, this omission is reasonable giventhe vast marketing and publicity about Viagra. Further, regarding availability, the story had a quote from a company spokesperson that the company would not be pursing approval for the use of this medication as a treatment for sexual dysfunction in women
The story put the recent research finding in an accurate perspective by reporting results from previous studies had been ‘inconclusive’.
This story does not appear to be based on a press release.