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Study Finds Hormone Therapy Helpful For Cystic Fibrosis


3 Star

Study Finds Hormone Therapy Helpful For Cystic Fibrosis

Our Review Summary

This story reports on a review article suggesting that human growth hormone reduces the number of hospital visits in children and adolescents with cystic fibrosis. While the story used an appropriately cautious tone regarding the findings and met many of our criteria, it failed to discuss any potential harms, include independent sources, provide more information regarding the study design, and mention other therapies used for cystic fibrosis.  


Why This Matters

As advances in therapies increase the life span of people with cystic fibrosis, it becomes increasingly necessary to find ways to deal with the subsequent complications of living longer with this condition. The story does a nice job of illustrating this point.


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?


The story does mention that human growth hormone is expensive; however, it would have been preferable if it reported an actual dollar amount, as this information is readily available.  

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

The story reports the findings regarding hospitalizations in both absolute and relative terms. It would have been useful to point out that hormune growth hormones had no signficiant effect on other outcomes, such as lung function and mortality.

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

Not Satisfactory
There was no mention of potential harms associated with human growth hormone. The authors reported that this therapy is associated with significant increases in fasting blood glucose concentrations, as well as short-term increases in hepatic transaminase levels, suggesting injury to the liver.

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

Not Satisfactory
Based on the description provided, it is not clear that the article in Pediatrics is a systematic review of previously published research articles. It also would have been helpful if the story included more information about the kinds of studies included in this review, as well as more information about the patients. To the writer’s credit, it’s mentioned up front that there is not enough evidence to suggest that human growth hormone extends the lives of people with cystic fibrosis.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

The story did not exaggerate the prevalence or seriousness of cystic fibrosis.

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

Not Satisfactory
The story only includes quotes from those involved with the research. While the story pointed out that the review was funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, it failed mention that several of the studies included in this review received industry funding.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory
This story specifically mentions antibiotics and other medications as a treatment for cystic fibrosis; however, there was no discussion of other devices or surgeries that address breathing and nutritional complications.

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

Not Applicable
The availability of human growth hormone is not in question.  

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

It’s clear from the story that human growth hormone is not a novel therapy for cystic fibrosis. It also provides a nice description of why human growth hormones may be helpful for increasing organ size in patients with cystic fibrosis.

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

This piece does not appear to rely on a press release.

Total Score: 5 of 9 Satisfactory


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