nos-trum. pronunciation: \nos'-trum\. noun. Etymology: Latin, neuter of noster our, ours.
1. a medicine of secret composition recommended by its preparer but usually without scientific proof of its effectiveness.
2. a usually questionable remedy or scheme.
See here for more discussion.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

How Valuable Are Medical Articles In Newspapers? Not Very.

What medical writing/reporting can you rely on?

An article in PLoS Medicine Journal (Sep 14) talks about the value of specialized reporting on issues of health.

The thing that motivated me most in setting up Nostrums was the distortion or hype I saw in the media about medical topics.  I found it infuriating that reporting that reached mass audiences would advocated breakthroughs that weren't, and derided proven treatments as obsolete...when they weren't.  The harm that can come from uninformed advice is particularly severe in  the field of medicine.  It's true there are wacko doctors out there, but fortunately they are rare.  And there are a few who don't keep up with current standards (that aint easy, let me tell you).  BUT, no other source than a physician, or other credentialled provider, is reliable.

Unfortunately, targeted and accurate medical advice doesn't reach the same audience.  A hyped article in the New York Times reaches millions, while each patient must talk one-on-one with their doctor to make good decisions.

In turns out that journalism researchers know that there are pernicious elements to their efforts:
1.  authors don't understand science.  Very common
2.  Editors who want to follow a "marketable" narrative rather than a sober assessment of the facts.

I recommend that media articles be taken with a grain of salt.  A few of them have some background in science, but most don't.  About the best magazine I've seen for science news is ....Science News.  The writers all specialize in their fields, the articles are shorta and to the point.  Priceless weekly newsletter, about 20 pages long.

Doc D

1 comment:

Web Allways said...

Medical article are always valued and not dependent on media like Newspapers or Web 2.0. But, it's the article reader who can reach electronic media easily like Web 2.0 otherwise all ideas are good in form of medical articles. More Health and Medical News at MDLinx.

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