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Saltwater therapy helps ease cystic fibrosis


4 Star

Saltwater therapy helps ease cystic fibrosis

Our Review Summary

This is a succinct article outlining an additional treatment that can be used by individuals with cystic fibrosis in additional to their currrent treatment that may help them avoid the serious complications of the disease. While it is clear that this treatment has the potential to provide some benefit, the story’s description of the treatment (a thirty minute session inhaling salt water nearly twice as salty as the ocean) leaves no doubt that this is not an entirely pleasant undertaking. The tradeoff is a decision left to the patients, though testing its benefit in infants may be next step in examining utility of the treatment. The only weaknesses of the story include not making clear how widespread is the availability of the treatment and not making clear these were randomized clinical trials (and why that’s important).


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?


An estimate of the treatment cost,

$13/month was obtained from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

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


The absolute benefit, 41% of those using the treatment avoided complications, is compared with

the 16% of those not using the salt water treatment.

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


The treatment was noted as having potentially limited benefit because the prospect

of adding an additional 30 minutes of treatment to an already extensive treatment regimen could be a burden. No mention was

made of the small (5%) number of patients using the treatment that experienced adverse events.

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

Not Satisfactory

The article describing the two studies failed to detail the nature of the studies. They were two randomized

clinical trials.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?


The article explains that cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease and a rare


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


The reporter contacted a clinician from a cystic fibrosis center

that did not appear to have ties to either study. She also included commentsfrom an editorial on the two studies.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?


The advantage of this treatment is that it may reduce the incidence of some serious

complications of the disease. The article is clear that this treatment does not cure cystic fibrosis and is used in addition

to other therapies, not instead of them.

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

Not Satisfactory

The treatment is available at the centers actually involved

in the studies; comments from a third clinician directing treatment of individuals with cystic fibrosis but not involved in

the studies indicates that use of this treatment has already been picked up by other groups specializing in cystic fibrosis

care. While this could suggest that other groups specializing in cystic fibrosis care might also be offering this treatment,

the actual availability is not clear.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?


This article reports on the

use of a novel adjunct treatment in the management of cystic fibrosis

Total Score: 8 of 10 Satisfactory


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