Far more questions than answers are provided by this story – see some of our questions below.
In the end, it’s not clear why this recycled news release is even newsworthy.
In the huge wave of medical science stories that flood the American public every day, editorial decision-makers need to evaluate what the impact is of overwhelming readers with an endless stream of stories about findings, about progress in research, about un-analyzed medical minutiae.
Journalists have an obligation to filter, to assess, to analyze, to evaluate – not merely to open the floodgates to unvetted news releases.
Cost is not particularly relevant in this case.
No adequate explanation was given of the measurement of how “pain was reduced” and no quantification was given of the degree of reduction nor of how many of the 143 study participants experienced what degree of pain relief.
Not applicable; we don’t know what harm could come from attempts at music therapy
The story was taken directly from a news release, spewing exactly what was said in the news release and no more.
There was no critical analysis.
There was no independent perspective evaluating the finding.
The story was unclear about whether pain or anxiety was the dominant issue.
The story also did not explain that shocking volunteers is not the same as studying patients with a clinical pain condition.
Not applicable. Readers weren’t told anything about what kind of pain – from what conditions – the study participants were experiencing.
Point of clarification: It’s not clear that these participants were suffering from any kind of pain other than the shocks provided by the investigators. They’re described as “volunteers.”
The story lists a news release as its source and it’s clear this was its only source.
Feels like holiday-week filler material.
No comparison was made with any other known method of pain relief. Then again, as already stated, we don’t know anything about the pain these study participants had, so the entire story is void of vital information.
We’re going to rule this unsatisfactory because we’re not told what kind of music was used (couldn’t that be an important variable?), nor for how long study participants were exposed, nor the setting (home? research setting?) – nothing that could address the potential availability of this approach.
Music therapy has been studied for decades across a range of conditions. The story didn’t even acknowledge any past research in any other field.
The story admits that an American Pain Society news release was its sole source.