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Grant Details

Grant Number: 5R01CA104721-03 Interpret this number
Primary Investigator: Schwartz, Lisa
Organization: Dartmouth College
Project Title: Improving the Quality of News Reporting on Medicine
Fiscal Year: 2006
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Abstract

DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Context -- The news media has a powerful influence on public perceptions about health. Several studies, however, have raised questions about how well the press covers medical issues, pointing out errors and misleading statistical presentations. Such problems are not surprising. Journalists generally receive no training in how to interpret or discuss medical research. And medical journals, the most common source of stories, currently do little to make the journalist's job easier. Long-term objectives -- To help journalists to better cover medical research and to help improve communication between journalists and the medical journals, we will: (1) Develop and evaluate news report quality criteria for media reporting on medical issues; (2) Develop and evaluate press guides to facilitate and standardize communication between medical journals and journalists; (3) Develop and evaluate a primer to train journalists in how to interpret and report on medical research. Specific Aims Aim I: Conduct formal psychometric testing to establish the validity, reliability and sensibility of the news report quality criteria as an outcome measure for subsequent studies in Aims II and III. Aim II: Work with 4 major medical journals (Ann Intern Med, BMJ, JAMA, and J NaU Cancer Inst) to refine the press guide and develop a process for its implementation. We will evaluate how journalists respond to the press guide and conduct randomized trials to see whether press guides improve the quality of reporting (using Aim criteria). Aim III: Develop a primer for journalists with practical advice on how to interpret and report on medical research. We will assess the effect of the primer in a randomized controlled trial involving staff newspaper healthcare journalists. The main outcome measures will be whether the primer improves critical reading skills and the quality of reporting (using Aim I criteria). Significance -- this project will help by developing methods to evaluate media coverage of medical issues and by promoting balanced health messages in the media. Balanced news coverage will help patients (and their physicians) better understand the importance of research findings and the benefits of medical interventions -- in turn, this will help to promote informed decision making.

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Publications

Do physicians understand cancer screening statistics? A national survey of primary care physicians in the United States.
Authors: Wegwarth O, Schwartz LM, Woloshin S, Gaissmaier W, Gigerenzer G
Source: Ann Intern Med, 2012 Mar 6;156(5), p. 340-9.
PMID: 22393129
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Promoting healthy skepticism in the news: helping journalists get it right.
Authors: Woloshin S, Schwartz LM, Kramer BS
Source: J Natl Cancer Inst, 2009 Dec 2;101(23), p. 1596-9.
EPub date: 2009 Nov 20.
PMID: 19933445
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Press releases by academic medical centers: not so academic?
Authors: Woloshin S, Schwartz LM, Casella SL, Kennedy AT, Larson RJ
Source: Ann Intern Med, 2009 May 5;150(9), p. 613-8.
PMID: 19414840
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Using a drug facts box to communicate drug benefits and harms: two randomized trials.
Authors: Schwartz LM, Woloshin S, Welch HG
Source: Ann Intern Med, 2009 Apr 21;150(8), p. 516-27.
EPub date: 2009 Feb 16.
PMID: 19221371
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The risk of death by age, sex, and smoking status in the United States: putting health risks in context.
Authors: Woloshin S, Schwartz LM, Welch HG
Source: J Natl Cancer Inst, 2008 Jun 18;100(12), p. 845-53.
EPub date: 2008 Jun 10.
PMID: 18544745
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The drug facts box: providing consumers with simple tabular data on drug benefit and harm.
Authors: Schwartz LM, Woloshin S, Welch HG
Source: Med Decis Making, 2007 Sep-Oct;27(5), p. 655-62.
EPub date: 2007 Sep 14.
PMID: 17873258
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The effectiveness of a primer to help people understand risk: two randomized trials in distinct populations.
Authors: Woloshin S, Schwartz LM, Welch HG
Source: Ann Intern Med, 2007 Feb 20;146(4), p. 256-65.
PMID: 17310049
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Ratio measures in leading medical journals: structured review of accessibility of underlying absolute risks.
Authors: Schwartz LM, Woloshin S, Dvorin EL, Welch HG
Source: BMJ, 2006 Dec 16;333(7581), p. 1248.
EPub date: 2006 Oct 23.
PMID: 17060338
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Giving legs to restless legs: a case study of how the media helps make people sick.
Authors: Woloshin S, Schwartz LM
Source: PLoS Med, 2006 Apr;3(4), p. e170.
EPub date: 2006 Apr 11.
PMID: 16597175
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Patients and medical statistics. Interest, confidence, and ability.
Authors: Woloshin S, Schwartz LM, Welch HG
Source: J Gen Intern Med, 2005 Nov;20(11), p. 996-1000.
PMID: 16307623
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Reducing the risk that patients get it wrong.
Authors: Woloshin S, Schwartz LM
Source: Gastroenterology, 2005 Aug;129(2), p. 748-50.
PMID: 16083729
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The exaggerated relations between diet, body weight and mortality: the case for a categorical data approach.
Authors: Welch HG, Schwartz LM, Woloshin S
Source: CMAJ, 2005 Mar 29;172(7), p. 891-5.
PMID: 15795411
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