Media Coverage of Health News
By Rachel Walden — May 31, 2012
If you’ve ever questioned the accuracy of media coverage of medical news, Health News Review is a great go-to resource. The site has excellent resources to help people critically read health news articles and learn what to look for in news reports, which often overstate or misstate the potential impact of the newest test or treatment.
You can also go to HRN to find reviews, written by the site’s medical experts, of specific medical news stories.
Medical news stories are reviewed for a number of criteria, like whether the costs and potential harms of any treatments are explained, if the story medicalizes normal variations and states (like menopause or wrinkles), whether conflicts of interest are identified, and whether a story discusses the quality of the evidence.
For example, HNR recently reviewed a Wall Street Journal article on long-lasting birth control. The study found that methods such as the IUD and hormonal implants, which don’t require action on the part of the user once the method is in place, are far more effective than methods like the Pill, which require a woman to take a pill daily. HRN notes that while benefits and availability of these methods are covered, the article doesn’t address costs or side effects, especially in comparison to other methods.
The site also provides tips for understanding studies and a blog for additional topics and discussion.
Have to say that I questioned all of it, but also take it with a gain of salt as well.