Workshop funded by a grant from the Arnold Foundation
Contact for general information:
Martina V. Taylor, MLS (ASCP), Project Manager
Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice
Click here to access APPLICATION form
Background. Problems with health messages in the news, press releases, public health messages, blogs and social media are well known. Messages are often exaggerated, oversimplified, lacking in context, or uncritical. As a result, the public often lacks key information and context needed to make sense of the health claims or decide whether to believe them. Such poor communication matters because it may promote unrealistic beliefs about health risks and treatment harms and benefits, and may lead to wasteful or harmful health decisions.
Workshop goals. The key goals of the Workshop are to enhance participants’ critical thinking skills, and encourage a sense of healthy skepticism and foster the confidence to apply it. Participants will learn how to interpret and reliably report the results of medical research:
o Understand medical evidence, convey it in understandable fashion, and distinguish it from opinion
o Examine their own or others’ preconceived views about medicine and health to de-bias reporting
o Recognize limitations inherent in science (i.e., inference from limited samples to broad populations)
o Convey the strengths and limitations of common study designs and statistical analyses
o Address external issues that inhibit presenting the full story (e.g., financial or other conflicts of interest, editorial biases)
o Provide an advanced set of tools (tip sheets, online primers and practice modules) to place new research findings in the context of the results of other studies on the same or similar topic
o Hone skills in covering stories that hold meaningful messages for the public (i.e., identify studies with high quality evidence assessing patient important outcomes)
o Address appropriate use of patient anecdotes in medical stories to avoid “stacking the evidence” in an unwarranted direction
o Optional skills sessions covering for example, searching for reliable medical research, understanding systematic reviews, grading evidence.
The 3 ½ day workshop builds on the very popular, highly interactive curriculum developed in over a decade of teaching journalists. Topics covered include:
Basic study design, common statistical and epidemiologic concepts, principles of risk communication, medical screening, overdiagnosis.
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TEACHING FACULTY BIOS
Steven Woloshin, MD, MS is a professor of medicine and Director of the Center for Medicine in the Media at the Dartmouth Institute (Hanover, NH, USA). He is an internationally recognized expert in evidence-based medicine and risk communication. Dr. Woloshin has worked to improve the communication of medical evidence to physicians, journalists, policymakers, and the public to help them see through excessive fear and hope created by exaggerated and selective reporting in medical journals, advertising, and the news. He is the former editor of the journal Effective Clinical Practice, and serves on the editorial boards of JAMA Internal Medicine and the Cochrane Library. He co-authored 2 books, Know Your Chances: Understanding Health Statistics (University of California Press) and Overdiagnosed (Beacon Press). His work with the late Dr. Lisa Schwartz was awarded the American Medical Writer's Association’s John P. McGovern award “for pre-eminent contribution in research and enhancing the communication of medical evidence” and the Society of Medical Decision Making’s John M. Eisenberg Award for “sustained leadership in translating medical decision making research into practice, and [having] taken exceptional steps to communicate the principles and/or substantive findings of medical decision making research to policy makers, to clinical decision makers, and to the general public.”. He founded the Lisa Schwartz Foundation for Truth in Medicine which is dedicated to improving medical decision making through better communication about the benefits, harms and limitations of medicine.
Barry Kramer, MD, MPH is the former Director of the Division of Cancer Prevention at the National Cancer Institute. He was the editor-in-chief of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI) from 1994-2012. He served as Editor-in-Chief of the National Cancer Institute’s Physician Data Query (PDQ) Editorial Board on Screening and Prevention for more than 25 years, and was also a member of the PDQ Adult Treatment Editorial Board. He has extensive experience in primary cancer prevention studies, as well as clinical screening trials of lung, ovarian, breast and prostate cancers. He served as an investigator and was on the steering committee for two large practice-changing cancer screening trials sponsored by the National Cancer Institute: the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, Ovarian (PLCO) Trial; and the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST). His research interests include investigation of screening-detected cancers that are so indolent that they have little or no lethal potential for the person in whom they are detected (a phenomenon known as “cancer overdiagnosis”). He has a strong interest in weighing and reporting the strength of medical evidence and created the original Medicine in the Media Workshop (MiM) which was the inspiration for the current workshop. Dr. Kramer often serves as a media contact for stories on cancer prevention, screening, cancer overdiagnosis, and critical evaluation of the literature.
Drs. Woloshin and Kramer ran the Medicine in the Media workshop for journalists, sponsored by the US National Cancer Institute for over a decade.