How and Why Too Much Health Journalism Lead the Public Astray: Case Studies from a Former Medical Reporter.

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Every day, consumers are bombarded by countless medical stories touting the latest research published in The New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of the American Medical Association, and other leading medical journals. Occasionally, such articles are true to the state of the science and make honest and thorough efforts to present the complexity of the research, offer context on the findings, and break-down the degree of risk to consumers in a concise and accessible fashion. More often, however, consumers are left with simplistic and misleading news reports that do as much to mislead as to inform. This presentation will look at case studies including prostate cancer, bisphenol A, accident safety, and others to explore how and why mistakes are made in medical news reports and how journalists and scientists can work together more effectively to prevent them.
Paper presented at the 1st International Symposium on Understanding Health Benefits and Risks: Empowering Patients and Citizens. Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland. May 29, 2009