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In testing for allergies, a single shot may suffice

Rating

3 Star

In testing for allergies, a single shot may suffice

Our Review Summary

This story reports on the use of a blood test, Immunoglobulin E (IgE), to diagnose allergies. The shots would replace the traditional method of diagnosis – a series of skin pricks to show a reaction to various allergens. While this story does a good job of explaining the benefits of having one blood test compared to a series of skin pricks, the story does not adequately describe the strength of the available evidence.

The story states that the blood tests were developed in the 1970s but that newer tests have become available more recently. The story does say that the test is available and comments that its use is limited in the U.S.

However, the story does not quantify the benefits of the blood test compared to the skin test. It is not clear from the story if the blood test results in better outcomes for the patient other than convenience and fewer side effects. The question of whether using the blood test in combination with treatment results in better outcomes for the patient is unanswered.

Furthermore, the story only mentions one harm of the blood test – getting the blood drawn itself. The story should have mentioned other harms such as what happens with false positive or negative results or how the results may be misinterpreted by non-allergy specialist clinicians.

Finally, the story commits disease mongering by not explaining that the blood and skin tests are only used in those with severe allergies. Most people with common pet or seasonal allergies will not require this kind of testing. Furthermore, the story overstates the risk that children with allergies have of developing respiratory problems and asthma later on.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The story does not mention the cost of the blood test compared to the skin prick test. While it does refer to the contention by some that "allergists resist blood testing in part to protect their revenue," the story does not describe the actual fees surrounding either the blood tests or the skin-prick tests.

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

Not Satisfactory

The story does not quantify the benefits of the blood test compared to the skin test. It is not clear from the story if the blood test results in better outcomes for the patient other than convenience and fewer side effects. The question of whether using the blood test in combination with treatment results in better outcomes for the patient is unanswered.

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

Not Satisfactory

The story only mentions one harm of the blood test – getting the blood drawn itself. The story should have mentioned other harms such as what happens with false positive or negative results or how the results may be misinterpreted by non-allergy specialist clinicians.

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

Not Satisfactory

The story does not describe the strength of the available evidence to support the use of the blood test. Specifically, no data are presented on whether more diagnostic testing will result in better outcomes.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Not Satisfactory

The story commits disease mongering by not emphasizing that the blood and skin tests are only used in those with severe allergies. Most people with common pet or seasonal allergies will not require this kind of testing. Furthermore, the story overstates the risk that children with allergies have of developing respiratory problems and asthma later on.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Satisfactory

The story mentions the skin testing and talking with their primary care doctors about their symptoms as alternatives to the blood test.

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

Satisfactory

The story does say that the test is available and comments that its use is limited in the U.S.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

The story does state that the blood tests were developed in the 1970s but that newer tests have become available more recently.

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

Satisfactory

Because the story quotes multiple experts, the reader can assume the story does not rely on a press release as the sole source of information.

Total Score: 5 of 10 Satisfactory

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