Making Sense of Sensational Claims
The Post and Courier recently posted an article regarding a very serious American issue: sensational medical claims and understanding the difference. Claims can be as small as using raw product to avoid allergies, or as large as drinking a glass of red wine a day helps avoid cancer. The issue is that some people, especially older people, believe all the claims to be true. It’s wise to know how to sort out the false claims from reality.
The article discusses these “too good to be true” claims, some even pushed by the media. How is a person supposed to know what to believe? The Post and Courier’s article is about clarifying claims and helping people stay healthy by becoming detectives for their own health.
The first point brought up by the article is research, and that is because research is the most important part of health care. How is a person to research, however, when even the media is pushing the wrong information? Basically, research involves gathering information from a number of different sources. There is a reason why our teachers in school wanted us to have more than one resource for our school papers. We were being taught how to research, and we must use those lessons now. Remember that the media wants to pull people in; read as many sources as possible regarding the latest news before believing anything. Use caution, however; different sources of media are necessary, such as television, Internet, and medically based journals. Your doctor is always a great source.
Look at The Source
Look behind the information and find out who paid for the research, then find out which journal published it, advises the Post and Courier. Every organization has a reason for publishing specific information; some groups even have political agendas to fulfill. Did the California grape farmers fund the research on drinking a bottle of wine a day to promote weight loss? That is a warning sign that the information is probably skewed. The medical journal in which the information is published also matters. Consider reading only peer-reviewed journals, as they contain better information than open-source types. According to the Post and Courier, JAMA, The New England Journal of Medicine, and the American Journal of Public Health all need peer review for publication.
The article in the Post and Courier confesses that this rule can be confusing for the general public, but it’s necessary. Correlations happen when articles claim that A led to B when it didn’t. For example, if a “study” stated that participants who drank five glasses of wine a day presented with a more normal heart rate, it isn’t necessarily true that the wine had anything to do with the heart rate. It could simply be a correlation, according to the Post and Courier.
Read All Fine Print
Look at the size of the study. This number has a great deal to do with the outcome of the study. A study from only last year showed that dark chocolate helped patients with heart disease, however, the study only included 20 patients. A large number of media outlets picked up the story and shared it under false pretenses.
It must be said – one of the biggest issues in health care is social media. Not enough people look at information with a healthy dose of skepticism, and this leads to mislead patients. Believe nothing you read until you have done the proper research yourself.
If you want to read more on this topic, please review the original article here: Post and Courier
If you want to speak with a Vancouver staff member, we are available to help you find your own personal health answers. At Vancouver Home Health Care Agency, Caring and Compassion is our business.