Reporting comparative results from hospital patient surveys.
Externally-reported assessments of hospital quality are in increasing demand, as consumers, purchasers, providers, and public policy makers express growing interest in public disclosure of performance information. This article presents an analysis of a groundbreaking program in Massachusetts to measure and disseminate comparative quality information about patients' hospital experiences. The article emphasizes the reporting structure that was developed to address the project's dual goals of improving the quality of care delivered statewide while also advancing public accountability. Numerous trade-offs were encountered in developing reports that would satisfy a range of purchaser and provider constituencies. The final result was a reporting framework that emphasized preserving detail to ensure visibility for each participating hospital's strengths as well as its priority improvement areas. By avoiding oversimplification of the results, the measurement project helped to support a broad range of successful improvement activity statewide. (+info)
Do we facilitate the scientific process and the development of dietary guidance when findings from single studies are publicized? An American Society for Nutritional Sciences controversy session report.
This American Society for Nutritional Sciences Controversy Session presented at the 1997 Experimental Biology meeting considered whether publicity of findings from single studies facilitates or hampers the scientific process and the development of scientifically sound dietary guidance. In a 1995 survey, 78% of primary household shoppers believed it "very likely" or "somewhat likely" that in the next 5 y experts would have a completely different idea about which foods were healthy and which were not. This skepticism is fueled by the media's emphasis on reporting new and often controversial findings about food and nutrition. Media efforts are reinforced by the fact that some scientific journals regularly publicize newly published research findings. As a consequence, journalists frequently mediate scientific debate in a public forum-debate that previously was conducted among knowledgeable peers. Tight deadlines often make it difficult for reporters to thoroughly investigate findings publicized in press releases. Headlines can make results from single studies appear important, even when results are inconclusive. Finally, scientists and public policymakers have limited opportunity for making timely comments in response to an issue reported in the media. Nevertheless, the public has a right to be informed about health-related research findings to help them make decisions about their diets. The media are a valuable resource for educating the public and maintaining public interest in the importance of diet in overall health status. Nutrition scientists should be more involved in helping the media accurately convey diet and health messages. (+info)
Reporting and concordance of methodologic criteria between abstracts and articles in diagnostic test studies.
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the quality and concordance of methodologic criteria in abstracts versus articles regarding the diagnosis of trichomoniasis. STUDY DESIGN: Survey of published literature. DATA SOURCES: Studies indexed in MEDLINE (1976-1998). STUDY SELECTION: Studies that used culture as the gold or reference standard. DATA EXTRACTION: Data from abstract and articles were independently abstracted using 4 methodologic criteria: (1) prospective evaluation of consecutive patients; (2) test results did not influence the decision to do gold standard; (3) independent and blind comparison with gold standard; and (4) broad spectrum of patients used. The total number of criteria met for each report was calculated to create a quality score (0-4). MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: None of the 33 abstracts or full articles reported all 4 criteria. Three criteria were reported in none of the abstracts and in 18% of articles (95% confidence interval [95% CI] 8.6% to 34%). Two criteria were reported in 18% of abstracts (95% CI, 8.6% to 34%) and 42% of articles (95% CI, 27% to 59%). One criterion was reported in 42% of abstracts (95% CI, 27% to 59%) and 27% of articles (95% CI, 15% to 44%). No criteria were reported in 13 (39%) of 33 abstracts (95% CI, 25% to 56%) and 4 (12%) of 33 articles (95% CI, 4.8% to 27%). The agreement of the criteria between the abstract and the article was poor (kappa -0.09; 95% CI, -0.18 to 0) to moderate (kappa 0.53; 95% CI, 0.22 to 0.83). CONCLUSIONS: Information on methods basic to study validity is often absent from both abstract and paper. The concordance of such criteria between the abstract and article needs to improve. (+info)
Coverage by the news media of the benefits and risks of medications.
BACKGROUND: The news media are an important source of information about new medical treatments, but there is concern that some coverage may be inaccurate and overly enthusiastic. METHODS: We studied coverage by U.S. news media of the benefits and risks of three medications that are used to prevent major diseases. The medications were pravastatin, a cholesterol-lowering drug for the prevention of cardiovascular disease; alendronate, a bisphosphonate for the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis; and aspirin, which is used for the prevention of cardiovascular disease. We analyzed a systematic probability sample of 180 newspaper articles (60 for each drug) and 27 television reports that appeared between 1994 and 1998. RESULTS: Of the 207 stories, 83 (40 percent) did not report benefits quantitatively. Of the 124 that did, 103 (83 percent) reported relative benefits only, 3 (2 percent) absolute benefits only, and 18 (15 percent) both absolute and relative benefits. Of the 207 stories, 98 (47 percent) mentioned potential harm to patients, and only 63 (30 percent) mentioned costs. Of the 170 stories citing an expert or a scientific study, 85 (50 percent) cited at least one expert or study with a financial tie to a manufacturer of the drug that had been disclosed in the scientific literature. These ties were disclosed in only 33 (39 percent) of the 85 stories. CONCLUSIONS: News-media stories about medications may include inadequate or incomplete information about the benefits, risks, and costs of the drugs as well as the financial ties between study groups or experts and pharmaceutical manufacturers. (+info)
On being paid not to work for the men of impressive but easy affairs.
I hide behind my limited presentation time to retreat from offering answers to this dilemma, save to cite one example to illustrate that knowledge workers are not politically hopeless. In response to a severe need, investigators mobilized in the last 5 years to advocate for increased federal funding for research. The succeeded. Many deans, department chairs, and other managers, including the NEJM editors, viewed this project as unlikely to succeed and not worthy of their aggressive promotion. Perhaps this example suggests that knowledge workers should sometimes work for pay to solve their problems. Please see in REFERENCES my comments on certain cited papers. Thank you for your attention and welcome discussion. (+info)
Human immunodeficiency virus on the web: a guided tour.
Through the efforts of thousands of individuals, the World Wide Web has become a gold mine of information about HIV. In this article, we describe approximately 90 Web sites that are among the most useful to clinicians and researchers with regard to HIV. Web sites were classified according to their content and target audience and were judged according to their adherence to accepted standards of medical Internet publishing. Selected Web sites were categorized into the following groups: (1) sites with comprehensive coverage of HIV treatment and its management, (2) on-line peer-reviewed journals, (3) proceedings of scientific meetings, (4) sites with HIV-related textbooks, manuals, and guidelines, (5) government publications, (6) research databases, (7) information on clinical trials, (8) sites with comprehensive information for laypersons, and (9) sites with information related to specific medical complications of HIV infection. (+info)
Journal reading habits of internists.
We assessed the reading habits of internists with and without epidemiological training because such information may help guide medical journals as they make changes in how articles are edited and formatted. In a 1998 national self-administered mailed survey of 143 internists with fellowship training in epidemiology and study design and a random sample of 121 internists from the American Medical Association physician master file, we asked about the number of hours spent reading medical journals per week and the percentage of articles for which only the abstract is read. Respondents also were asked which of nine medical journals they subscribe to and read regularly. Of the 399 eligible participants, 264 returned surveys (response rate 66%). Respondents reported spending 4.4 hours per week reading medical journal articles and reported reading only the abstract for 63% of the articles; these findings were similar for internists with and without epidemiology training. Respondents admitted to a reliance on journal editors to provide rigorous and useful information, given the limited time available for critical reading. We conclude that internists, regardless of training in epidemiology, rely heavily on abstracts and prescreening of articles by editors. (+info)
Authors, editors, policy makers, and the impact factor.
Some aspects of the "impact factor", a quantitative measure of journals' influence on journals in scientific fields, were discussed in the preceding issue of the Croatian Medical Journal by Dr Eugene Garfield, one of its devisers. This factor can be of interest to authors, journal editors, and policy makers, but they should keep in mind the complexity of the determinants of impact factors while using them in coming to their particular kinds of decisions. A clearer picture of the influence a journal may have in its own scientific field rather than among all scientific journals could come from a variant of the impact factor, "the scope-adjusted impact factor". The calculation of this variant impact factor is described. A table presents some sample data from this calculation and shows how the relative positions of some major journals shift when they are ranked by this factor rather than the unadjusted impact factor. The possible value of this variant factor may merit further testing. (+info)