Steven Woloshin, MD, MS; Lisa M. Schwartz, MD, MS; Samuel L. Casella, MPH; Abigail T. Kennedy, BA; Robin J. Larson, MD, MPH
Woloshin S, Schwartz LM, Casella SL, Kennedy AT, Larson RJ. Press Releases by Academic Medical Centers: Not So Academic?. Ann Intern Med. 2009;150:613-618. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-150-9-200905050-00007
Download citation file:
Published: Ann Intern Med. 2009;150(9):613-618.
The news media are often criticized for exaggerated coverage of weak science. Press releases, a source of information for many journalists, might be a source of those exaggerations.
To characterize research press releases from academic medical centers.
Press releases from 10 medical centers at each extreme of U.S. News & World Report's rankings for medical research.
Press release quality.
Academic medical centers issued a mean of 49 press releases annually. Among 200 randomly selected releases analyzed in detail, 87 (44%) promoted animal or laboratory research, of which 64 (74%) explicitly claimed relevance to human health. Among 95 releases about primary human research, 22 (23%) omitted study size and 32 (34%) failed to quantify results. Among all 113 releases about human research, few (17%) promoted studies with the strongest designs (randomized trials or meta-analyses). Forty percent reported on the most limited human studiesâ€”those with uncontrolled interventions, small samples (<30 participants), surrogate primary outcomes, or unpublished dataâ€”yet 58% lacked the relevant cautions.
The effects of press release quality on media coverage were not directly assessed.
Press releases from academic medical centers often promote research that has uncertain relevance to human health and do not provide key facts or acknowledge important limitations.
National Cancer Institute.
News reports often exaggerate the importance of medical research.
The researchers reviewed press releases issued by academic medical centers. They found that many press releases overstated the importance of study findings while underemphasizing cautions that limited the findings' clinical relevance.
The researchers did not attempt to see how the press releases influenced actual news stories.
Academic center press releases often promote research with uncertain clinical relevance without emphasizing important cautions or limitations.
*Of the medical schools that issued at least 10 press releases in 2005.
The In the Clinic® slide sets are owned and copyrighted by the American College of Physicians (ACP). All text, graphics, trademarks, and other intellectual property incorporated into the slide sets remain the sole and exclusive property of the ACP. The slide sets may be used only by the person who downloads or purchases them and only for the purpose of presenting them during not-for-profit educational activities. Users may incorporate the entire slide set or selected individual slides into their own teaching presentations but may not alter the content of the slides in any way or remove the ACP copyright notice. Users may make print copies for use as hand-outs for the audience the user is personally addressing but may not otherwise reproduce or distribute the slides by any means or media, including but not limited to sending them as e-mail attachments, posting them on Internet or Intranet sites, publishing them in meeting proceedings, or making them available for sale or distribution in any unauthorized form, without the express written permission of the ACP. Unauthorized use of the In the Clinic slide sets will constitute copyright infringement.
Education and Training, Healthcare Delivery and Policy, Hematology/Oncology.
Results provided by:
Copyright © 2017 American College of Physicians. All Rights Reserved.
Print ISSN: 0003-4819 | Online ISSN: 1539-3704
Conditions of Use
This PDF is available to Subscribers Only