Clinical studies and the media

Here’s something interesting I came across from Internal Medicine News Online. It discusses whether the media overplays and overpublicizes clinical studies. Some excerpts:

. . . most studies cannot stand alone. “Rarely is a study conclusive enough or broad enough to establish public policy or direct individual action by itself,” . . .

. . . Although they might be suitable for journal publication, very few of these studies belong in the popular media, said Dr. Zweig, who emphasized that he was speaking only for himself and not for the institute. “Most of it is not suitable for public consumption because it’s not ready to be used by individuals or for public health purposes. And it might be news that this work was done, but because of the limited context, it’s not useful news to most people.” . . .

Take the recent discussion on PSA screening for prostate cancer. Based on one study, the media coverage has taken a life of its own. Many times these studies do not dictate broad changes in the way we practice medicine, however in its goal to “make a story”, the media often trumpets studies to mean more than they really do.

✓ Join 150,000+ subscribers
✓ Get KevinMD's most popular stories