How many times do you, and I’m guilty of it too, go to Google to search for the answer to why you’ve been feeling a little off or having pain in a certain area. And how many times were you told that you might have cancer or some other terrible disease or illness and should seek medical attention immediately? Anytime I admit to my Dr that I’ve “researched on Google” about a particular problem, I can see the frustration and disappointment in his face. One Dr even said “I’m still employed, aren’t I? Don’t search for the answer to your medical problem on Google. Come see me instead.”
Are science-backed headlines bad for your health? A new study published in The BMJ shows that you can’t always trust what conclusions news stories draw about the latest research.
Researchers wanted to look at how often press coverage misrepresents scientific studies. So they analyzed 462 press releases from 20 leading research universities in the UK, comparing their claims to those found in the peer-reviewed paper on which they were based. After analyzing the news stories those press releases generated, the researchers traced whether the papers’ claims got inflated in translation to mainstream media. They focused on three main types of exaggeration: flawed health recommendations to change their behavior based on the “findings”; a causal association when a merely correlational one existed; and the application of animal data to the health of humans.
A full 40% of press releases contained exaggerated advice, 33% drew causative conclusions from mere correlation, and 36%…
View original post 335 more words