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 - https://archive.org/web/.
Read Original Story

Hormone therapy may damage hearing

Rating

3 Star

Hormone therapy may damage hearing

Our Review Summary

For the millions of women who take hormone replacement therapy to treat menopausal symptoms, the news that the therapy may damage their hearing may be alarming. Other women who take birth control pills that contain progestin may also be wondering if they are also putting themselves at risk. However, by no means is this recent finding conclusive and this story does little to clear up the confusion.

By focusing on “hearing damage” without describing the degree of loss or explaining whether the amount of loss is clinically significant or not, the story crosses the line into disease mongering. The story does not quantify the harms of HRT in terms of hearing loss so the reader cannot know whether the amount of loss is significant to the individual. Furthermore, the story does not adequately describe the nature of the clinical evidence. The story does not explicitly state important details about the design of the recent study. For example, was it prospective or retrospective? The story leaves it up to the reader to infer this detail from a quote from an expert. The story should have been more clear.

In addition, the story does not mention the other harms of HRT such as heart attack, stroke or blood clot. However, the story does a good job of quoting multiple, independent sources who provide some much needed perspective.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Applicable

This criterion is not applicable in this story.

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

Not Satisfactory

The story does not quantify the harms of HRT in terms of hearing loss. Furthermore, the story does not explain whether the amount of loss is significant to the individual.

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

Not Satisfactory

The story does not mention the other harms of HRT such as heart attack, stroke or blood clot.

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

Not Satisfactory

The story does not adequately describe the nature of the clinical evidence. The story does not explicitly state important details about the design of the recent study. For example, was it prospective or retrospective? The story leaves it up to the reader to infer this detail from a quote from an expert. The story should have been more clear on the study design.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Not Satisfactory

By focusing on “hearing damage” without describing the degree of loss or explaining whether the amount of loss is clinically significant or not, the story crosses the line into disease mongering.

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

Satisfactory

The story does a good job of quoting multiple, independent sources.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Satisfactory

The story stated: “A study of 124 postmenopausal women found that those taking hormone replacement therapy that included progestin had poorer speech understanding than women who were not taking hormones or who were using estrogen only.” So it at least nodded in the direction of other options, although not in any depth. Nonethless, we’ll give the story the benefit of the doubt on this criterion.

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

Satisfactory

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is clearly available.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

HRT is clearly an existing therapy.

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

Satisfactory

Because the story quoted several independent sources, it appears that the story did not rely solely or largely on a news release.

Total Score: 5 of 9 Satisfactory

Comments

Please note, comments are no longer published through this website. All previously made comments are still archived and available for viewing through select posts.