Views & Reviews No Holds Barred

Research press releases need better policing

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g2868 (Published 28 April 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g2868
  1. Margaret McCartney, general practitioner, Glasgow
  1. margaret{at}margaretmccartney.com

Blaming the media for bad reporting is good sport. It’s easy to find headlines in the broadsheets as well as the tabloids breaking health news with overstated research findings. Caveats of scientific conclusions are often abbreviated or absent. Scientific uncertainties can be left diminished or invisible.

The media have been repeatedly blamed for misinformation and health scares, and no wonder: when patients voice or act on misconceptions in the press, trying to redress the balance can eat up scarce clinical time.

I confess a previous secret pleasure in playing the dissing bad headlines game. My own crossness with bad health reporting was the reason I started writing. But the rules were never fair, I now realise.

Doctors and scientists are …

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