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Herbal Remedy Clinical Trials in the Media: bias

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  • Teresa binstock
    Here s link to the whole-text article: Herbal Remedy Clinical Trials in the Media: a Comparison with the Coverage of Conventional Pharmaceuticals Tania Bubela,
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 1, 2008
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      Here's link to the whole-text article:

      Herbal Remedy Clinical Trials in the Media: a Comparison with the
      Coverage of Conventional Pharmaceuticals
      Tania Bubela, Heather Boon and Timothy Caulfield
      BMC Medicine 2008, 6:35 doi:10.1186/1741-7015-6-35
      http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/6/35/abstract


      Background

      This study systematically compares newspaper coverage of clinical trials
      for herbal remedies, a popular type of complementary and alternative
      medicine (CAM), with clinical trials for pharmaceuticals using a
      comparative content analysis. This is a timely inquiry given the
      recognized importance of the popular press as a source of health
      information, the complex and significant role of CAM in individual
      health care decisions, and the trend toward evidence based research for
      some CAM therapies.
      Methods

      We searched PubMed for clinical trials, Lexis/Nexis for newspaper
      articles in the UK, US, Australia/NZ, and Factiva for Canadian newspaper
      articles from 1995-2005. We used a coding frame to analyse and compare
      48 pharmaceutical and 57 herbal remedy clinical trials as well as 201
      pharmaceutical and 352 herbal remedy newspaper articles.
      Results

      Herbal remedy clinical trials had similar Jadad scores to pharmaceutical
      trials but were significantly smaller and of shorter duration. The
      trials were mostly studies from western countries and published in
      high-ranking journals. The majority of pharmaceutical (64%) and herbal
      remedy (53%) clinical trials had private sector funding involvement. The
      minority declared further author conflicts of interest. Newspaper
      coverage of herbal remedy clinical trials was more negative than for
      pharmaceutical trials; a result only partly explained by the greater
      proportion of herbal remedy clinical trials reporting negative results
      (p=0.0201; chi2 = 7.8129; DF = 2). Errors of omission were common in
      newspaper coverage, with little reporting of dose, sample size, location
      and duration of the trial, methods, trial funding and conflicts of
      interest. There was an under-reporting of risks, especially for herbal
      remedies.
      Conclusions

      Our finding of negative coverage of herbal remedy trials is contrary to
      the positive trends in most published research based primarily on
      anecdotal accounts. Our results highlight how media coverage is not
      providing the public with the information necessary to make informed
      decisions about medical treatments. Most concerning is the lack of
      disclosure of trial funding and conflicts of interest that could
      influence the outcome or reporting of trial results. This lack of
      reporting may impact the medical research community who have the most to
      lose by way of public trust and respect.



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