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Acupuncture May Take Edge Off Menopause Symptoms

Rating

1 Star

Acupuncture May Take Edge Off Menopause Symptoms

Our Review Summary

When a study is so small that even the news release calls it a “small study” in the lead, journalists might want to explore that point. But this story never discussed the limitations of small, short-term studies. And it never discussed other past evidence that came up with different conclusions about acupuncture and menopausal symptoms. But that’s what you get – or don’t get – in a 165-word story derived from a news release.

 

Why This Matters

Journalism is supposed to independently vet claims.  There was no evidence that happened in this story.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

No discussion of cost.  Women in the study were treated for 10 weeks.  How much would that cost?  Not a trivial issue.

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

Not Satisfactory

The story only stated that women who got acupuncture “had significantly less severe hot flashes and mood swings.” What does that mean?  How was it measured?

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

Not Satisfactory

No discussion of any potential harms – only a discussion of benefits.

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

Not Satisfactory

All this story said was ” the researchers acknowledged that they did not monitor how long symptom relief lasted.”

That was the only hint of a limitation.  But there wasn’t any other evaluation of the quality of the evidence in such a small, short-term trial.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

No overt disease mongering.  Although the story made no attempt to explain how troublesome the study subjects’ symptoms were before the intervention.

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

Not Satisfactory

No one was quoted, suggesting that no one was interviewed.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

Not a word about any other research on acupuncture for menopausal symptoms and no comparison with any other methods used to relieve symptoms.

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

Not Satisfactory

This was a story about a Turkish study (not explained in the story) on Chinese acupuncture.  If a woman doesn’t know anything about acupuncture, this story told her nothing about its availability in the U.S.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Not Satisfactory

There has been a lot of research on acupuncture and menopausal symptoms.  This story made no reference to any of it.

Just last year a significant review of 106 previous papers on acupuncture and menopausal symptoms found exactly no benefit from the treatment.

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

Not Satisfactory

The story admits that its source was a journal news release.  A for honesty.  F for independent journalism.

Total Score: 1 of 10 Satisfactory

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