If interpreting a statistic or research is often difficult for health professionals, the task can become be even more difficult for journalists reporting on science. In the field of health there is little certainty, everything is a possibility, and one of the basic functions of the reporter is to clearly explain this uncertainty.
Precisely because biostatistics is one of the major shortcomings of journalists and science communicators, the Spanish Association of Science Communication and the Esteve Foundation decided to organize a workshop at the National Cardiovascular Research Centre to shed some light on some basic concepts and to discuss the problems encountered by biomedical journalists when trying to make sense of statistical data.
This new Esteve Foundation Notebook is a compilation of the presentations and dialogues between journalists and statisticians that took place during the workshop, and it offers numerous indications and guidelines to improve the reporting of results in medical research. The workshop coordinator, Gonzalo Casino, who has over a decade of experience in reporting on health affairs in Spain, outlines in the first chapter of the book some of the most common mistakes made by his profession, such as ignoring absolute risk, over exaggerating prevention or giving too much attention to animal studies.
But the Notebook not only reflects the views of science journalists. Erik Cobo, from the Department of Statistics and Operations Research at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia, offers some basic tips on interpreting empirical studies, while Jose Luis Peñalvo, researcher at the CNIC, focuses on the peculiarities of epidemiological studies. Meanwhile, Pablo Alonso, a researcher at the Cochrane Collaboration, explores systematic reviews, which are the studies that generate more trust and confidence in the scientific community.
Two international experts, Lisa M. Schwartz and Steven Woloshin, from the Geisel School of Medicine, who have led major research into communication of biomedical research, also participated in Biostatistics for journalists and communicators.
In addition to chapters covering the biostatistics talks given during the workshop, edited by Ainhoa Iriberri (Muy Intersante, BMJ), Esperanza Garcia Molina (SINC Agency) and Paul Francescutti (Advanced Communications Studies Group, Rey Juan Carlos University), the notebook is complemented by a special series of illustrations by the artist Enrique Ventura, for a playful and sceptical counterpoint to the interpretation of statistics in biomedicine.
To conclude the book, the authors offer a list of 33 key messages that science journalists should keep in mind when dealing with information from scientific studies.
|Full document||G. Casino||[wpdm id=1224 type=”btn”]|
|Presentación||G. Casino||[wpdm id=947 type=”btn”]|
|Participantes||[wpdm id=948 type=”btn”]|
|1. Los periodistas ante la bioestadística: problemas, errores y cautelas||G. Casino||[wpdm id=949 type=”btn”]|
|2. ¿Qué pretende y qué puede contestar la investigación biomédica?||E. Cobo||[wpdm id=950 type=”btn”]|
|3. La epidemiología y los estudios observacionales de cohortes y de casos y controles||JL. Peñalvo||[wpdm id=951 type=”btn”]|
|4. La confianza en los resultados de la investigación y el sistema GRADE||P. Alonso||[wpdm id=952 type=”btn”]|
|5. Diálogo 1. Herramientas estadísticas, buenos consejos y cierta intuición periodística||A. Iriberri||[wpdm id=953 type=”btn”]|
|6. Diálogo 2. Sobre los estudios observacionales y su tratamiento periodístico||P. Francescutti||[wpdm id=954 type=”btn”]|
|7. Talleres. Análisis de papers, comunicados de prensa y artículos periodísticos||E. García Molina||[wpdm id=955 type=”btn”]|
|8. Seeing through the hype: problems with media coverage and how to do better||S. Woloshin / LM. Schwartz||[wpdm id=956 type=”btn”]|
|9. Seeing through the hype: Garbage! When the news is not fit to print||LM. Schwartz / S. Woloshin||[wpdm id=957 type=”btn”]|
|10. 33 mensajes clave sobre bioestadística para periodistas y comunicadores||[wpdm id=958 type=”btn”]|
|Bibliografía||[wpdm id=959 type=”btn”]|
|Apéndice||[wpdm id=960 type=”btn”]|