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The association between exaggeration in health related science news and academic press releases:

Discussion in 'Other Health News and Research' started by barbc56, Dec 18, 2014.

  1. barbc56

    barbc56 Senior Member

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    This is an intriguing article that analyzes a study showing how news releases from a University's Press Office highly influence how a study is reported in the news

    The following blog is about this study.The study can be linked there but I found the analysis more informative and easier to read.. i would suggest reading this article first, then go to the study that includes a video demonstrating the principles sited in the first article.

    The author has the following suggestions for formatting university press releases that hopefully reduce media hype about a study.

    • I broke up the above for readability but can't delete some of the bullets.
    Barb
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2014
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  2. Sean

    Sean Senior Member

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    Got a link?
     
  3. barbc56

    barbc56 Senior Member

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  4. Esther12

    Esther12 Senior Member

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  5. barbc56

    barbc56 Senior Member

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    I also liked the video as it demonstrates a news release that is clear. I forgot to look at the rapid responses.. Thanks for mentioning that.

    Barb
     
  6. Sean

    Sean Senior Member

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    Thanks Barb.

    :grumpy:

    I remain completely opposed to the whole idea of a single gatekeeper or authority to decide what is 'official' science.

    Exhibit A: Science Media Centre
     
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  7. barbc56

    barbc56 Senior Member

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    This study speaks about university press releases. It showed that the media uses these press releases more than thought, sometimes verbatim and coming to It's not saying these should be the only source of informatio.

    I would also oppose only one source of information.

    There was a press release from the University of Colorado where most of the press wrote directly from the press release. Because the press release was so vague, it was interpreted as being the opposite of the studies intent.

    I will post the link when I find it.

    Barb
     
  8. barbc56

    barbc56 Senior Member

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    Here is the link. When I googled this, the first two pages were from the news media. At a quick glance, I did not see any stories refuting the misinterpretations of the University's press release.

    http://www.bmj.com/content/349/bmj.g7015

    Barb
     
  9. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    Is there another thread on this? I think I read something like it recently, but I am not sure where.
     
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  10. biophile

    biophile Places I'd rather be.

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    This paper may actually underestimate the exaggeration rates.

    It focused on three specific types of exaggeration, so other problems may have been missed.

    I haven't spent much time looking at the full text but someone pointed out to me that it included reporting on the PACE Trial. However, it only sampled one news article and generally didn't find much exaggeration (at most there is something about an association being promoted to causation?).

    Yet we know that the PACE results were exaggerated in multiple articles e.g. claiming that 60% of patients would benefit from pushing their limits (failing to include the control rate of 45% or any evidence that patients can push their limits) and claiming that 1/3 of participants recovered back to normal. Here the exaggeration was largely because of how the results were misleadingly presented in the paper itself, at the Lancet press conference, and in the Lancet editorial, about patients getting back to normal or recovering (using very dubious criteria). In other words, the primary source of the exaggeration was the principal investigators themselves and the journal which published the paper, rather than a university press release.

    As for the recovery paper, that was sheer exaggeration, since the criteria used and the attempts to justify massive changes to the protocol were generally ridiculous. Some parts of the paper are so bad or incorrect that a retraction may be warranted.

    Amusingly hypocritical commentary from the Science Media Center (which uncritically hyped PACE results twice):

    science media centre > blog > abandon hype, all
    December 12, 2014
    http://www.sciencemediacentre.org/abandon-hype-all
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2014
  11. barbc56

    barbc56 Senior Member

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    @biophile

    Very interesting take. I have bookmarked the blog.

    Thanks

    Barb

    ETA It looks like there's some related information to the right of the blog. However it took so long to load, I was timed out. Maybe tomorrow.
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2014
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  12. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    I think if we were careful, meticulous, and only based on the evidence and reason (not vague implication or suspicion) we could make a solid case that all papers relating to this study should be retracted.
     
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  13. MeSci

    MeSci ME/CFS since 1995; activity level 6?

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    There is an item on this paper in Journal Watch:

    http://www.jwatch.org/na36641/2014/12/23/press-releases-and-news-stories-often-contain-exaggerated

    Paul S. Mueller, MD, MPH, FACP reviewing Sumner P et al. BMJ 2014 Dec 10.

     
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  14. biophile

    biophile Places I'd rather be.

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    A nice piece of irony about the topic of this thread from Max Pemberton, a doctor journalist who repeated and then defended the hype about "recovery" in the Lancet publications on the PACE Trial back in 2011:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/h...-not-journalists-are-bad-for-your-health.html

    Why scientists, not journalists, are bad for your health

    Shocking and exaggerated claims made by some scientists in a desperate bid for research funds and academic glory are fuelling health scare stories.

    By Max Pemberton

    7:05AM GMT 15 Dec 2014

     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2015
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  15. barbc56

    barbc56 Senior Member

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    Ben Goldacre's BMJ editorial.

    http://www.bmj.com/content/349/bmj.g7465.full?ijkey=pdGfXk42ClHVR4e&keytype=ref

    .

    Since reading about this issue, I've been more aware of press releases from academic institutions and how the wording misconstrues what a study is saying. No wonder we see contradictory information in the media such as one day something is good for you and several months later it's harmful. Brainfog prevents me from an example at the moment.:thumbdown:

    In the past, I always put the blame on the traditional media sources and while they aren't innocent, they also play a role in all this.

    Sigh.

    Barb

    Sorry, Max Pemberton. In the rush to get the lead on a story, fact checking is often neglected and that's your(plural) bad.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2015
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  16. MeSci

    MeSci ME/CFS since 1995; activity level 6?

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    Scientific views do change all the time, though, based on new evidence that contradicts old evidence or long-held views that weren't evidence-based.
     
  17. barbc56

    barbc56 Senior Member

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    Yeah, I neglected to say that. It's the way science works. Thanks!

    Barb
     

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