Monday, November 16, 2009

Health News Review-- A Model for Reviewing Health Claims in the Media and the Web

Health News Review is a website devoted to rating the ways in which news organizations report on health news. They have developed 10 criteria including 1) raising unrealistic claims about effectiveness, 2) cost of the treatment, 3) how the benefits are portrayed, (4 limitations of the treatment and or risks associated with a treatment, etc.

The criteria and the overall service of the website seem very valuable and provide a good way to educate the public about what to pay attention to in regards to the way scientific and/or health information is provided to the general public.

These criteria could easily be adapted to many other scientific topics when presented to the public.

Their ratings of TV health news reporting are particularly troubling. Sadly, the publisher of the website, Gary Schwitzer, Professor in the Health Journalism program at the University of Minnesota, writes that he is abandoning rating TV programs as there seems to be little evidence that they can influence this media.

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