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The mind as a path to comfort

Rating

5 Star

The mind as a path to comfort

Our Review Summary

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common, though mysterious condition. Drugs that have come on the market recently have been somewhat disappointing, though one wouldn’t know that given how heavily marketed they are. This story reports on a new approach to treating IBS: psychotherapy. This story does a very good job of explaining the new approach and placing it in context with existing therapies.

By accurately describing the prevalence of IBS, the story avoids disease mongering. The story clearly states that psychotherapy has been around for a while, but that it is a new approach for treating IBS. The story clearly states that cognitive behavioral therapy is available, but it is not clear how widely available it is and how difficult it may be to find a practitioner. The story states that psychotherapies are “without side effects.” While that may reflect the existing data, it would have been better for the story to comment on potential side effects or harms without dismissing them. The story mentions drug treatment as the alternative, but it could have provided more information on lifestyle changes like diet and exercise.

The story provides sufficient details about the design of the recent studies and it does provide quantification of benefits in absolute terms for the 10-week and 4-week groups compared to no treatment.

Although the story suggests that the therapy can be expensive, this is not sufficient information on costs.

Because the story quotes multiple sources, the reader can assume that the story does not rely on a press release as the sole source of information. Although there was a press release issued from the meeting, the story does not lift text from it and the story also quotes researchers who were not included in the press release.
http://www.ddw.org/wmspage.cfm?parm1=451

Overall, a solid piece of journalism.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

Although the story suggests that the therapy can be expensive, this is not sufficient information on costs.

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

Satisfactory

The story does provide quantification of benefits in absolute terms for the 10-week and 4-week psychotherapy groups compared to no treatment. The story does not provide detail on the hypnotherapy studies.

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

Satisfactory

The story states that psychotherapies are “without side effects.” While that may reflect the existing data, it would have been preferable for the story to comment on potential side effects or harms without dismissing them.

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

Satisfactory

The story provides sufficient details about the design of the recent studies. The story could have provided additional details on the hypnotherapy studies cited. We are told that “just over half” of patients in the hypnotherapy group improved, while no patients in the control groups improved, but we are not given numbers or definition of “improved.”

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

By accurately describing the prevalence of IBS, the story avoids disease mongering.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Satisfactory

The story mentions drug treatment as the alternative. The story could have provided more information on lifestyle changes like diet and exercise.

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

Satisfactory

The story clearly states that cognitive behavioral therapy is available, but it is not clear how widely available it is and how difficult it may be to find a practitioner.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

The story clearly states that psychotherapy has been around for a while, but that it is a new approach for treating IBS.

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

Satisfactory

Because the story quotes multiple sources, the reader can assume that the story does not rely on a press release as the sole source of information. Although there was a press release issued from the meeting, the story does not lift text from it and the story also quotes researchers who were not included in the press release.

Total Score: 9 of 10 Satisfactory

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