Read Original Story

Noninvasive Test May Identify Down Syndrome Early On

Rating

3 Star

Categories

Noninvasive Test May Identify Down Syndrome Early On

Our Review Summary

Good examples:

  • Emphasis on how the test may “one day” offer a safe way to detect Down syndrome – rather than saying “women may soon be able to have a blood test…” as Reuters did
  • Emphasis on “small study…experimental”
  • Inclusion of an independent perspective

 

Why This Matters

A story like this is going to catch the attention of many women and many couples.  Establishing just how preliminary are these findings is essential to avoid promoting false hope and unrealistic expectations in readers.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

Only mention of cost was the researcher’s quote: “The cost is much lower than the invasive procedures.”  Oh?  What is that cost?  How much lower?  We’re not told.

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

Satisfactory

The story explained that “the test quickly pinpointed the chromosomal variation, identifying 14 Down syndrome cases and 26 normal fetuses.”

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

Not Satisfactory

No discussion of potential harms – of sensitivity and specificity issues still not determined after such a small study.

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

Satisfactory

In small, subtle ways the story framed this as an early step in research – experimental, requiring confirmation in larger clinical trials.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

No disease mongering.

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

Satisfactory

The story included the perspective of one independent expert.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

No discussion of how this compares with any of the other approaches being studied in this field.

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

Satisfactory

More reserved than its Reuters competitor, this story emphasizes the test “may one day” be available… “if larger clinical trials confirm the results.”

“Small study” and “experimental” stressed in second sentence.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Not Satisfactory

No discussion of how this compares with any of the other approaches being studied in this field.

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

Satisfactory

The story did not rely solely on a news release.

Total Score: 6 of 10 Satisfactory

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