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Tips for Understanding Media News Reports

It’s common for people to learn about medical advancements through the media, with reports coming out almost daily. Unfortunately, much of this news can be unhelpful, as it often includes exaggerated cures, contradictions, and misleading information that can do more harm than good. Journalists and readers alike may misinterpret scientific information, leading to confusion and counterproductive outcomes. The issue isn’t with the science itself, but rather how it’s reported and understood by the public.

Understanding how science progresses and how it is reported can help make sense of health news. Most medical facts are established through experiment. Well designed, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trials provide the best evidence.

Some things to look for:

  • Consider the media outlet’s reputation for reliability and independence
  • Look at the credibility of the reporter or outlet
  • Consider the source
  • Beware of extravagant claims
  • Beware of anecdotal reports

Read more about how to judge health reporting in the media

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