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Your hairs are what you eat, study says

Rating

2 Star

Your hairs are what you eat, study says

Our Review Summary

This story reports on the results of a new study describing the use of hair samples to diagnose eating disorders. This short story does not present much information and leaves the reader wondering if hair sample analysis could be useful in clinical practice or if it will simply be an interesting research tool.

The story does not mention harms of the test. For example, what might be the harms of the test in the 20% who were misidentified? The story does not mention alternative methods of diagnosing an eating disorder, such as body mass index or other measures. The story also does not adequately quantify the benefits of the test. Although the story says that the test was correct 80% of the time, it is not clear what this means. Does this mean that the test was positive 80% of the time in women with eating disorders (i.e. sensitivity = 80%)? But how often was the test negative in subjects who did not have the disease (i.e. specificity)?

The story does not adequately describe the design of the current study or the strength of the available evidence. The story also does not mention costs or comment on the availability of the test. Hair analysis for various purposes is already available and for the most part is of questionable and uNPRoven clinical value. The implication in this story, although there is no explicit comment on availability, is that the test is readily available.  Yet the study was done on only 20 women diagnosed as having anorexia, anorexia and bulimia, or bulimia.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The story does not mention any costs of the hair analysis.

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

Not Satisfactory

The story does not adequately quantify the benefits of the test. Although the story says that the test was correct 80% of the time, it is not clear what this means. Does this mean that the test was positive 80% of the time in women with eating disorders (i.e. sensitivity = 80%)? But how often was the test correct in subjects who did not have the disease (i.e. specificity)?

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

Not Satisfactory

The story does not mention harms of the test. For example, what might be the harms of the test in the 20% who were misidentified?

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

Not Satisfactory

The story does not adequately describe the design of the current study – all of which could have been found easily online.  The story also does not adequately describe the strength of the available evidence.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

The story does not appear to engage in disease mongering.

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

Not Satisfactory

The story only quotes one expert, the lead author of the current study.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

The story does not mention alternative methods of diagnosing an eating disorder, such as body mass index, which measures underweight, one cause of which could be an eating disorder. 

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

Not Satisfactory

The story does not mention if the "test" is available or just a research tool.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

Clearly the test is a new approach to diagnosing eating disorders.

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

Not Applicable

There is no way to know if the story relies on a press release as the sole source of information.  However, only a single researcher (author of a study) was quoted.  

Total Score: 2 of 9 Satisfactory

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