Articles in the most-read American news outlets usually fail to adequately discuss the pros and cons of new medical treatments, tests, products and procedures, according to an analysis of nearly 1,500 health stories from the last five years.
The finding is based on reviews done by a panel of more than 30 physicians, scientists, public health researchers, medical journalists and other experts affiliated with the website HealthNewsReview.org, which marked its fifth anniversary in April. Less than 30% of stories explicitly discussed the cost of new treatments, and only about one-third adequately covered their benefits and harms or addressed the quality of the medical evidence offered in their support.
“On most days, on most stories, we’re giving a kid-in-the-candy-store view where we’re making everything look terrific without noting the downside or noting the price tag,” said Gary Schwitzer, a former TV news reporter and publisher of HealthNewsReview.org. “And we wonder why we have a confused health care consumer population?”
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