Health News Review: What Scientists Really Think About the Latest Health Story

Last week we discussed why health articles so often get it wrong, but here's one resource that gets it right: Health News Review, a site where scientists and physicians take a hard look at health stories and let consumers know how they hold up. Wondering what experts really think of stories like "Berries May Cut Heart Attack Risk in Women, Study Says"?

That particular headline came from a HealthDay story that didn't fare so well under Health News Review's scrutiny, meeting just three of the eight criteria. But the review helpfully links to two other stories that do a little better, including the NPR coverage of the same study, which satisfies six of the eight criteria.

And what are the criteria these stories are being judged by? Some of the questions include:

• Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?
• Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?
• Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?
• Does the story commit disease-mongering?
That last criterion addresses an especially common problem in health stories. Many articles seem written to make readers feel like there is something seriously wrong with their health — even when there isn't, or when the condition being addressed (wrinkles, shyness, menopause) isn't a disease at all.

Even simply knowing the questions experts ask themselves when reading a health-related article is an easy way to become a savvier, more informed consumer. This is a site I'll be checking regularly, especially when the latest attention-grabbing health headline overtakes my Facebook and Twitter feeds.

Check it out: Health News Review

(Image: Vania Georgieva/Shutterstock)

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