Balanced, generally complete, evidence-based, with clear language:
We have a limited pot of money to spend on health care. Do we want insurance plans to reimburse for toenail fungus treatments that don’t have a solid evidence base? This story helps educate readers about what they might not get for a sizeable investment.
Costs of one treatment course is estimated at $750-1,500 and the story says that some may need one one to four treatments. So up to $6,000 for ugly toenails.
Includes the caveat that “Solid evidence of the lasers’ effectiveness, is scant. In clinical practice, results have varied, according to doctors who have used the laser.”
It was quite specific about a small, short-term study and how often it s howed “new growth without fungus” or “at least three millimeters of clear new nail.”
All very helpful details to guide readers’ decisions about whether this is worth it.
The story does a reasonable job in describing the side effects seen with Lamisil, a drug approved for this use. Unfortunately it does so with a bit of an apparent bias, “….If you are willing to risk side effects, …” in its discussion. Although the laser treatments are generally well tolerated, some people have mild pain and a sense of warmth. We would have been willing to give the benefit of the doubt but the suggestion that there are absolutely no side effects associated with the laser treatment leads us to rule this unsatisfactory.
At a broad, overview level, the column does an adequate job. Language used is important;
This is one story that does not commit disease-mongering of toenail fungus. It includes a discussion of the mild end of the spectrum – in which nail fungus is “merely a cosmetic problem.”
Everyone quoted in the story had a conflict – a user, a consultant, a paid advser, someone who owns stock in a device maker, or a company spokesman. But all of those conflicts are acknowledged. And some of these people offer clear caveats about the approaches.
The story offered good comparisons in its broad-ranging discussion of treatment options. We only wish there had been a more direct discussion of not being treated, perhaps profiling someone who chose to forego treatment. And it did not mention the host of topical and oral drug treatments currently under study.
The “growing number of doctors” offering this procedure, the lack of insurance coverage, the FDA OK for one device and off-label use of others all address general availability issues.
The story doesn’t treat any of the approaches discussed as new. Good context on the range of stuff being done to treat toenails.
Given the number of sources cited, it’s clear the story didn’t rely solely or largely on a news release.