Evidence-based health news site recognized
Congratulations to Health News Review for winning a Knight-Batten award from the Institute for Interactive Journalism. Health News Review takes a similar but more formal approach to this blog in looking at the quality of the science behind health stories, and the quality and accuracy of the reporting itself. The reviewers are a team of powerhouses, experts in evidence-based medicine, led by health journalism professor Gary Schwitzer of the University of Minnesota and in collaboration with the Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making.
What's great about Health News Review, and similar sites in other countries (below), is that it systematically evaluates the accuracy and quality of health news stories. Health journalists, whether they set out to or not, play two roles: providing straight news on health research, care, and policy, and, in the process, providing consumer health information. Because we know that consumers - not to mention health care providers - get health information from the news media and base health decisions on it, it is extremely important that health stories be accurate, understandable, in context, nuanced, and balanced.
Here's how the process works: The reviewers hand-pick stories from the top 50 U.S. newspapers, major TV networks, AP wires, and weekly news magazines. These stories relate to claims about procedures, treatments, and tests for prevention or management of disease, with direct or implied relevance to humans. The reviewers then evaluate the stories on 10 criteria ranging from quality of the evidence to novelty and availability of treatment, a number of stars are assigned for each criterion, and an overall rating is then assigned. Three reviewers rate each story because of the real possibility of disagreements, and the group plans a formal analysis of the consistency and variability of the evaluations.
The group has published over 200 reviews in 5 months, and, according to Schwitzer, reaction from health journalists has been overwhelmingly positive, and demonstrative of their desire for feedback in this complex area of journalism.
Related sites are Media Doctor Australia and Media Doctor Canada.