“Investigating Well being & Medication” – Offshore Investigative Journalism Community

We welcome comments, which users can leave at the end of any of our systematic story reviews or at the end of any of our blog posts.
But before leaving a comment, please review these notes about our policy.
You are responsible for any comments you leave on this site.
This site is primarily a forum for discussion about the quality (or lack thereof) in journalism or other media messages (advertising, marketing, public relations, medical journals, etc.)  It is not intended to be a forum for definitive discussions about medicine or science. 
We will delete comments that include personal attacks, unfounded allegations, unverified claims, product pitches, profanity or any from anyone who does not list a full name and a functioning email address.  We will also end any thread of repetitive comments.  We don”t give medical advice so we won”t respond to questions asking for it.
We don”t have sufficient staffing to contact each commenter who left such a message.  If you have a question about why your comment was edited or removed, you can email us at feedback@healthnewsreview.org.
There has been a recent burst of attention to troubles with many comments left on science and science news/communication websites.  Read “Online science comments:  trolls, trash and treasure.”
The authors of the Retraction Watch comments policy urge commenters:
“Shed light, not just heat. Facts, challenges, disagreements, corrections — those are all fine. Attacking the person, instead of the idea or the interpretation, is neither acceptable nor helpful.”
We”re also concerned about anonymous comments.  We ask that all commenters leave their full name and provide an actual email address in case we feel we need to contact them. We may delete any comment left by someone who does not leave their name and a legitimate email address.
And, as noted, product pitches of any sort – pushing treatments, tests, products, procedures, physicians, medical centers, books, websites – are likely to be deleted.  We don”t accept advertising on this site and are not going to give it away free.
The ability to leave comments expires after a certain period of time.  So you may find that you’re unable to leave a comment on an article that is more than a few months old.

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This handy 3, 222 systematic critiques concerned with journalism & PR will probably be been put quickly

Part of our website is going away April 1. But major features of the site will remain.  Here’s the breakdown and some background.
When I started publishing HealthNewsReview.org 15 years ago, the only content was news story reviews. To be more specific, we only reviewed news stories that included claims about health care interventions (treatments, tests, products, procedures, etc.). Because we applied 10 standardized criteria to the review of these stories, almost always with three independent reviewers (representing a mix of journalists, physicians, and others trained in the evaluation of evidence), the approach quickly gained credibility and a devoted following. Rather than delivering a subjective thumbs up or down, our reviews were the purest, most objective, systematic, analytical way we knew of for evaluating claims about health care that informed many Americans.
By the time substantial funding for the project elapsed at the end of 2018, my team, which had grown to about 50 reviewers, had systematically reviewed 2,616 news stories.
From 2015-2018, the team took a similar approach in systematically reviewing 606 public relations news release reviews.
You can read more about the final report card on these 3,222 reviews.
Through the years we added other content types that became very popular with thousands of followers:

2,933 blog posts – Unlike the systematic reviews that focused only on news stories and news releases, these posts touched on advertising, marketing, talk shows, journal or pre-print publishing practices – a much broader range of communication issues that often negatively impact the public dialogue about health care.
Two dozen tips for analyzing studies, medical evidence and health care claims – primers to explain many of the concepts explored in everything we published
More than 40 “Just for Journalists” tips and case studies for writing about health care
A list of more than 100 industry-independent experts to help journalists do their job more completely, with unconflicted, independent perspectives
More than 20 patient stories of perceived harm from misleading media messages – one of the most important features on the site in my view, with many heart-breaking stories
50 podcasts – featuring interviews with leading clinician-researchers, patients, and journalists.  The audio for only a few of the podcasts remains on the site and even those will soon be removed. I have no staff and no funding to add new podcasts or pay for hosting of past productions.

Why we need to remove the reviews
Now, because of the age of some of the original coding and structure of the website going back 16 years – counting our year of beta development – the systematic reviews cannot be maintained any longer. The website now runs on a WordPress platform which must be updated occasionally.  But when my webmaster recently tried to update WordPress, all of the systematic reviews disappear.  If we don’t update WordPress the website will eventually be unstable. So I really have no choice but to remove the 3,222 news story and news release reviews as soon as possible.
As a result, I have chosen April 1, 2021 as the day these reviews will be removed from the site. I would do it sooner but I want to give followers a chance to peruse the reviews and learn from them.
After April 1, you will still be able to see our blog – the most popular feature of the site – the tips, primers and case studies, and the stories of patient harm from misleading media messages.
I am sad to have no other choice but to remove the reviews.  From the time I first saw the Media Doctor Australia project pursue this pathway in 2004, I was impressed.  Then when Floyd (Jack) Fowler, Jr., PhD and the Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making got me started with funding – support that continued from them for 8 years – our project soon became the biggest with the furthest reach of any of the six similar projects that sprung up around the globe. Later, Arnold Foundation funding allowed us to reach new heights for four years of much greater impact.
The reviews were our bread-and-butter
No other project in the U.S. has attempted anything similar to what we did with those criteria-driven reviews. Others have made claims about fact-checking projects.  I have written about the difference between fact-checking and what we did, and pointed out the inherent potential flaws of fact-checking on health care media messages.
A bioethicist wrote to me recently: “What you have done is remarkable. The information is so important – and not just for journalists.”
The first part of that comment is very kind.  The second part is right on the money; I always viewed this project as being useful for the general public.  As it says in our masthead, “Improving Your Critical Thinking About Health Care.”  The criteria-driven reviews were a major factor in delivering that kind of help to citizens/patients.
I’m not sure how often I will add new material to the website in 2021. The years 2020 and 2021 so far have sucked the wind from my sails. The pandemic, vaccine/treatment hype, confusing and contradictory statements from federal health agency leaders (Azar and Atlas lead the list), the ugliest politics, unequal justice, violence, the attack on the U.S. Capitol and the refusal by many elected officials to do anything about it – it all adds up to the worst year of misinformation of the American public that this journalist has seen in a 48-year career.
I’ll publish when I think I can add something that isn’t being adequately addressed.

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Tonto well being care information

Although I am advancing rapidly into almost complete retirement, there are some days/weeks when I can’t refrain from pointing out some of the troubling health care news I see.  This is one such week.
First, the COVID zombie news
My local Star Tribune newspaper delivered this front page news: University of Minnesota, Mayo report COVID-fighting success with anti-aging therapy.   COVID-fighting in mice, that is, which was revealed in the second paragraph:
Survival increased in mice with COVID-like illnesses when they received drugs that removed senescent cells — sometimes called “retirement” or “zombie” cells that no longer divide or grow, but persist in the body,
Mythology depicts a zombie as something you think is dead but it’s not.  Zombie health care news is not dead.  This story is based on interesting mouse research, but it’s still mouse research – not front page news in my view, unless you have a huge circulation in the rodent population.
Second, the Alzheimer’s zombie news
Many observers are stunned that the FDA approved the drug aducanumab for Alzheimer’s disease, after not one member of an FDA advisory committee voted to recommend approval.  Conflicting studies did not resolve questions about evidence.  The proposed cost for this low-evidence drug could bankrupt Medicare. Many news organizations have done a very good job of highlighting the problems.  Yet, I still see stories like these:

Aducanumab offers Alzheimer’s patients a new lease on life
A breakthrough drug, Aducanumab
Game-changing new dementia drug
New Alzheimer’s drug gives some hope of eventual cure
These stories reside in the depth of the daily drumbeat of dreck in health care news.  Run from it; there is zombie life oozing from that dreck. It won’t die.
Third, zombie conflict of interest health care news
The Washington Post presents another of its pharma-funded “Chasing Cancer” events. This one is sponsored by AstraZeneca, in return for which the Post gives the sponsor time in the program:
A segment presented by AstraZeneca will feature their executive vice president of the oncology business unit, Dave Fredrickson, in conversation with Leigh M. Boehmer, PharmD, BCOP, chief medical officer at the Association of Community Cancer Centers.

I wrote about this Post practice last year. Excerpt:
It’s noteworthy that over the past four years, The Washington Post has hosted multiple “Chasing Cancer” online events, with support from at least five other drug companies that are active in the cancer drug market:  Amgen, AstraZeneca, Bayer, Genentech, Takeda, and Tesaro.
It is not the job of journalism to partner with sponsors.  Ethical concerns arise when news organizations accept sponsorship from drug companies they cover regularly.
So the zombie of conflicted health care news is also still very much alive.
And so my occasional publishing isn’t dead yet either, as long as fodder like the above fans my flames.

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