Red wine is good for you. Red wine is bad for you. News coverage of health studies can give readers cognitive whiplash, and for good reason. “The reason the stories contradict each other is because the studies contradict each other,” reporter Virginia Hughes wrote in her blog. In her post, Hughes explains why it can be so frustrating to write about complex health research for an audience of readers that ...

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Is it possible for a doctor to be a journalist? A journalist a doctor? A runner to be a journalist and a doctor? In trying to be all the above I walked (arguably crossed) a line which sparked disappointment amongst my co-workers, and criticism from the public. When I started residency we had a lecture on the do’s and don’ts of social media. Don’t talk about patients, don’t post pictures of ...

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The recent concentration of misleading media hooey about health has been excruciating, but the problem is perennial. I trust I needn't make the case that you are under constant assault by distorted, contorted, titillating, and insipid headlines. This is certainly true in my domain of health and medicine; it may well be true more generally, but I tend to limit my commentary to the realm of my actual expertise. ...

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Interpreting studies is a dicey thing. Often I find what might be statistically significant translated into headlines that might not really get at the nuance of the study or the results. Take these three for example:

  1. "Pine bark extract improves severe perimenopausal symptoms"
  2. "Two weeks of antibiotic therapy relieves IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)"
  3. "Study: 'Female viagra flibanserin' works"
The first line of the last article: "Need a boost to your sex life. The magic could be in ...

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On December 4th, 2013, Katie Couric gave the HPV vaccine center stage during a segment on her talk show, Katie. The segment, entitled “The HPV Controversy,” was 20 minutes long, but ignited a digital firestorm between pro- and anti-vaccine voices that raged for days after the stage lights went dark. In partnership with Global Prairie, the entire online conversation surrounding this Katie segment was digitally captured using DataFarm. ...

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An article published in the New York Times last weekend has been circulating widely on the Internet, and I feel that more than ever, physician voices are needed to reach the public and counter certain misconceptions put forth by the media. The article, "Patients’ Costs Skyrocket; Specialists’ Incomes Soar," charts the growth of specialist incomes in the past decade, using the case of a patient from Arkansas who had a $25,000 medical ...

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Perhaps you’ve seen some of the media coverage reporting that “an apple a day” would save as many lives as statins do, with fewer side effects. Or perhaps not -- thankfully, this tongue-in-cheek “study” didn’t get the intense coverage received by the new statin guidelines (an issue I Read more...

In case you haven't heard, Malcolm Gladwell recently released his book, David and Goliath.  I'm just about finished reading it. Just as interesting as the book are its reviews.  In a recent post from Slate, Gladwell himself responds to the criticism.  He freely admits that his books should not be held as pinnacles of academic rigor, but should be considered "intellectual adventures stories." He further elaborates on the power of ...

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Have you noticed that most sick characters on TV shows look pretty good and are coherent -- often feisty -- even when they are in the hospital? Have you caught the number of ads for drugs and health plans showing happy, vigorous people that dominate the major consumer health websites and are common on TV? Have you noted that websites of disease voluntary organizations (lungcancerCrohn's diseasearthritis) tend to show healthy people participating in ...

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Can sexualized images from pop music be a teachable moment? I have a confession. I like pop music. During my commute each day I admit I often make the mind-bending switch between NPR and the top 40 station. Even if you trend toward a more high-brow music collection, perhaps you’ll allow me that these tunes are catchy and they’ve got a beat. But lately I’m feeling fairly conflicted about it. I didn’t watch the VMAs. ...

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