B – How to read health care news stories

Schwitzer G. A guide to reading health care news stories. JAMA Internal Medicine e-pub May 05, 2014
(doi: 10.10001/jamainternmed.2014.1359)

A team of reviewers from HealthNewsReview.org. evaluated the reporting by US news organizations on new medical treatments, tests, products, and procedures. They graded most stories unsatisfactory on 5 of 10 review criteria: costs, benefits, harms, quality of the evidence, and comparison of the new approach with alternatives. They established that the stories often emphasize or exaggerate potential benefits, minimize or ignore potential harms, and ignore cost issues. These findings can help journalists improve their news stories and help physicians and the public better understand the strengths and weaknesses of news media coverage of medical and health topics.