NOTE TO READERS: When this project lost substantial funding at the end of 2018, I lost the ability to continue publishing criteria-driven news story reviews and PR news release reviews - once the bread-and-butter of the site going back to 2006. The 3,200 archived reviews, while still educational, are getting old and difficult for me to technically maintain on the back end of the website. So I am announcing that I plan to remove these reviews from the site by April 1, 2021. The blog and the toolkit - two of the most popular features on the site - will remain. If you wish to peruse the reviews before they disappear, please do so by the end of March 2021. After that date you may still be able to access them via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine -
Read Original Story

Heart scans tied to “evidence-free” treatment: study


5 Star

Heart scans tied to “evidence-free” treatment: study

Our Review Summary

This story summarized the study and its significance clearly in the first sentence – “When symptom-free people have heart scans to look for clogged arteries, they can end up with overtreatment and side effects.”


Why This Matters

The story delivered powerful quotes from experts to put the findings into context for readers:

  • “Testing might lead to more harm than good.”
  • “With these new imaging techniques, we are left with the dilemma of what to do with the results.”
  • “Overdiagnosis is threatening to become an increasingly important public health problem because of the enthusiasm for and proliferation of uNPRoven screening tests.”


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


Much more clearly than the competing WSJ story, Reuters reported: “”Testing might lead to more harm than good.”

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


Unlike the competing Wall Street Journal story, this story was clear about the potential harms: “it’s well known that the scans expose patients to a high dose of X-rays, which can increase their likelihood of developing cancer. And the dyes used to enhance the images cause kidney damage in a significant portion of people.”

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


Clear, succinct summary of the evidence.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?


No disease mongering.

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


An author of the paper, and the author of an accompanying editorial were quoted.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?


The story ends with the researcher saying “doctors should focus on patients’ lifestyle and traditional risk factors such as smoking and obesity.”

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


The story was clear that the scans are not currently recommended by guidelines but that “there have been several reports of doctors doing CCTA heart scans in healthy patients, although the practice is currently discouraged by the American Heart Association.”

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?


The relative novelty of the screening test could be deduced from the story.

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


It’s clear that the story did not rely on a news release.

Total Score: 10 of 10 Satisfactory


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