Thursday, July 12, 2007

Always read the fine print when it comes to medical studies

I happened to notice a headline today that clearly stated "Meditation Won't Boost Health - Study." The article was one of those short, consumer-friendly health-related articles written for the layman, on Yahoo Health.

But if you read the whole article, it does not say meditation doesn't boost health. What it actually says is:

"Some of the studies suggested that certain types of meditation could help reduce blood pressure and stress and that yoga and other practices increased verbal creativity and reduced heart rate, blood pressure and cholesterol in healthy people.

However, the report authors said it isn't possible to draw any firm conclusions about the effects of meditation on health, because the existing studies are characterized by poor methodologies and other problems."

Anyone who just glanced at the headline would have said "Oh well, I can ditch those yoga classes I'm taking, they won't help me any." And they might be jettisoning a type of workout that truly has benefits for blood pressure or stress, all because of a poorly-written headline.

Whenever you see an article citing a study, always read the fine print of the article and draw your own conclusions. Better yet, find a copy of the actual study on the internet and read it yourself. This is the only way to truly understand the research results.

For the rest of the article, see this link:

A more complete article with a better headline appears in the Canadian press, here:

Just goes to show how the media can spin things with slight differences in words. This is something to keep in mind every time you read an article, and particularly on medical subjects.


Rhea said...

I was a hypochondriac as a kid. I am trying not to be one now. I've been doing well. Until I found your site, that is!@%#$^%@

RUTH said...

How true! Some of the headlines about celebrities and politicians prove that.....if you read the whole article the true story is so different. Even more important to know all the facts when health is concerned.

Mauigirl said...

LOL, Rhea, I hope I haven't caused a relapse!

Ruth, you're right, it's true for everything.

Lindasy Rosenwald said...

Excellent post. My review is:
Lindsay Rosenwald Lindsay Rosenwald – Director Of Republican Jewish Coalition