As the WSJ blog did, this story’s interview quotes provided important perspectives:
This was a well done story about a very well done study with important practice and policy implications.
The story stated: “Colonoscopy costs vary widely but typically exceed $1,000. While Medicare rules say the government won’t pay for too-frequent colonoscopies, only 2 percent of the study claims were denied for repeat exams in people without symptoms.”
We’ll give the story the benefit of the doubt for deftly summarizing the story in this way: “The older you are, the more likely you are to die from other causes before cancer becomes deadly, which means the screening procedure’s risks may outweigh its benefits in many aged patients, the study authors said.”
Mixed bag, but we’ll give the story the benefit of the doubt because, in comparison with some stories we reviewed at least this story mentioned what some of the harms were, stating: “The exam is generally pretty safe, but does have risks that occur more often with older patients, including complications from sedation, accidental perforation of the colon and bleeding.”
We wish the story had given some sense of how often these problems occur.
Adequate job explaining the study.
The theme of this story was the opposite of disease-mongering.
The story turned to an American Cancer Society source and to a Medicare spokesperson for comment.
The story did include the perspective that “while colonoscopies may be overused in the elderly, the exams and other colon cancer screening methods are underused among some groups, including the uninsured, blacks and Hispanics.”
Besides not offering any comparison with other screening methods, the story never mentioned what other screening methods are and it would have taken only a line to do so.
The availability of colonoscopies is not in question.
The relative novelty of this study was clear from the story.
It’s clear that the story did not rely solely on a news release.