Headlines about ever-changing health research findings can confuse even the savviest reader. And when the news stories are based on incomplete data or evolving guidelines, conflicting evidence also makes treatment decisions even more difficult for people and their care team.
Rob Lamberts, M.D., at times feels that he is caught in the crossfire between his patients and news about topics like antibiotics, supplements, cancer screening and whether or not to take a daily aspirin ' just to name a few. 'The problem is that every other week there seems to be a new study debunking the study done a few weeks before, and despite the fact that I may not believe all of these studies, my patients hear them and are trying to do what's best for themselves'?¦The problem with any scientific study is the generalization of the results,' said Lamberts. He advises people to work with their doctors to address their own biggest health risks.
General internist Juliet Mavromatis, M.D., is also familiar with the need to sift through the latest research news. She writes, "If you've followed top health news over the past several years, you've read conflicting statements about the utility of various medical procedures and tests. As a general internist I've devoured these reports with particular interest trying to wade through bias to formulate views that I believe will be of most benefit to my patients." Mavromatis recommends that health professionals read through the original data themselves to avoid reflexively supporting one's own expert panels. As for patients, she says to get the opinion of a specialist and a generalist, "each can be equally valid and it can help one see both the trees and the forest."
In Getting the Most Out of Health News, Barbara Bronson Gray, RN, MN, argues that even though it may be difficult to follow, it's important to read health news. Why? Because, "the more you read, the more you'll gradually understand, and the more likely you'll be able to ask good questions when you're faced with an issue or concern. Check out her 7 basic tips for how to get the information you need.
Have you ever found yourself confused by the evolving nature of health news?' How do you determine which information is useful?