Thursday, December 22, 2005

Why newspapers are bad sources of medical information

I'm not even going to bother doing the work here. The anaethetist blogger I mentioned before did a great job of deconstructing news reports that suggest that based on a recent study, getting a chest XRay to rule out cancer is a good idea.

Bottom line - quite often, mass media is an atrocious place to look to for medical information....unfortunately that probably also includes blogs (but not this one or bookofjoe :-) ).

Always ask yourself, who's the source and what's their motivation. In the case of the media, the motivation may simply be sales. An article entitled, "Chest XRay screening doesn't help to prevent lung cancer" will sell less articles than the one that says, "Get a chest XRay - it may save your life!"

That being said, there are some excellent medical journalists out there - you just need to learn who you can trust.