The Chicago Tribune reports on mammogram marketing tactics being used across the U.S. — some of it apparently to “woo women back to the imaging room” after confusion over conflicting advice about breast cancer screening.
Yes, the tactics include “mammogram parties” offering chocolate fondue, massages, beauty consultations, wine, cheese, roses, and weekend-getaway spa packages. But there’s another side to this, the Tribune reports:
Simply inviting women to “mammogram parties,” could send the wrong message, said Lynne Hildreth, department administrator of women’s oncology at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa. …”Mammograms are a medical test, and to treat it like a haircut overlooks that there are very real risks,” said Hildreth. “It’s not the same risk as getting hit by a car, but there’s a real risk of getting a false positive, which means a biopsy work-up, time off work, sleepless nights waiting for test results and a nagging in the back of the mind that never goes away. If we put a woman through that with no medical basis, it’s irresponsible.
The September issue of Prevention magazine inaccurately headlines the story “4 Ways Coffee Cures.” There’s no solid proof that coffee cures anything — unless some of you cure bacon with java, which I don’t want to know about.
What the story (below) did was to try to present a cute little graphic summary of observational studies that show a statistical association between increasing coffee consumption and fewer early deaths, fewer deaths from heart attack, fewer cases of dementia, and fewer cases of type 2 diabetes.
But such observational studies (they actually never cite the source — I’m just giving them the benefit of the doubt that they’re citing observational studies) CAN’T establish cause and effect, therefore it’s inaccurate for the story to use terms like “cure,” “protective,” and “lowers (or reduces or slashes) your risk.” Besides being inaccurate, such stories fail to educate readers. They mislead.
The post focuses on an article by someone who contends that the link between sunlight and skin cancer is a conspiracy by dermatologists and the cosmetic dermatology industry. Dr. Lipson’s highly insightful analysis about the “interview” process and how doctors must act these days on behalf of their patients concludes:
This article shows a misunderstanding of journalistic ethics, medical ethics, and medical science. It’s a disaster. And it’s no surprise that it’s in the Huffington Post.
While this is a medicine story, my question relates to why an organization with a lot of great front-page news so frequently posts medical articles that are wrong and, sometimes, downright dangerous.
If a website touted misleading healthcare information, you’d hope the government would do something about it. But what do you do when the government is the one feeding the public bad information?
Last week the Obama administration launched the new Healthcare.gov. It’s mostly an online insurance shopping website. It’s very much a federal government version of sites like eHealthInsurance.com or Massachsetts’ HealthConnector site, which have been around for years.
So when HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, in announcing the new site, claims it gives consumers “unprecedented transparency” into the healthcare marketplace, you should wonder what she means. But that’s not the big problem with this site. Read more »
A German physician wrote me about this, so while CNN may have an international reach, it’s not always with an adoring audience.
The physician was reacting to the weekend “Paging Dr. Gupta” program, which Dr. Gupta referred to once as “SG, MD.” The first thing that struck me was his introduction, in which he said:
“I’m your doctor. I’m also your coach.”
Later in the program he said:
“Think of this as your appointment. No waiting. No insurance necessary.”
I find this very troubling. He’s not my doctor. He’s not my coach. When I watch a “news” program, it’s NOT my medical appointment. It’s supposed to be news, not medical advice.
But that’s not what the German physician wrote to me about, so I kept watching (the segment in question appears about 5 minutes and 30 seconds deep, and after the 30-second commercial you have to watch to get there):
Gupta reacted to a viewer’s message on Twitter in which the tweep asked: “Does anyone know a ‘miracle’ treatment for ovarian cancer?” Read more »
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