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The Health Care Blog: How to read articles about health and health care

Posted Feb 10 2009 11:30am
The Health Care Blog: How to read articles about health and health care: If you’ve just read a health-related headline that’s caused you to spit out your morning coffee (“Coffee causes cancer” usually does the trick) it’s always best to follow the Blitz slogan: “Keep Calm and Carry On.”

On reading further you’ll often find the headline has left out something important, like “Injecting five rats with really highly concentrated coffee solution caused some changes in cells that might lead to tumors eventually. (Not to mention that the study was funded by The Association of Tea Marketing)

The most important rule to remember: “Don’t automatically believe the headline.” It is there to draw you into buying the paper and reading the story. Would you read an article called “Coffee pretty unlikely to cause cancer, but you never know?” Probably not.

Before spraying your newspaper with coffee in the future, you need to interrogate the article to see what it says about the research it is reporting on. Bazian (the company I work for) has interrogated hundreds of articles for 'Behind The Headlines' on the NHS health news Web site, and we’ve developed the following questions to help you figure out which articles you’re going to believe, and which you’re not."
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