Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Spin in medical literature, a cohort study

Hey, all,

A cool little study published in PLoS Medicine linked here.

Essentially, it's a "retrospective cohort study" looking at factors influencing relative hyperbole, or "spin", that appears in the news media following the publication of new medical science (specifically, randomized controlled trials). The authors conclude that, most commonly, spin creeps into the news when study authors include it in press releases. Ultimately, it suggests both that press releases need to be done responsibly and that the news media rarely reads or digests our newly published scientific literature!

I'll admit that, when overloaded with things to read and process with limited time, I occasionally take the easy route, skip past my assessment of medical literature, and begin with the conclusions. I think we all do.

There's clearly a problem if we're expecting outsider-types to digest our literary canon to separate our trashes from our treasures. They don't have the background in epidemiology/biostatistics/whatever scientific field we're publishing from to do so. Ultimately, even if they did, it isn't in the press' interest to restrict hyperbole.

So it's agreed: responsible, accurate press releases from now on. Good.

1 comment:

  1. well good, i was worried that the solution might be more difficult to achieve ;)


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