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 TIPS FOR UNDERSTANDING POPULAR
MEDICAL INFORMATION

Scientific advances continue to increase and the amount of information available to the media and the public is staggering.  No doubt -  all this medical information, for which we have easy access,  can be confusing.  Not only do medical news stories often use jargon that only trained professionals can understand, entire concepts are not always explained in a clear and concise way so that the average reader can understand them.   The information and Internet links provided in this section can help you gain a better understanding of medical information so that you can use the knowledge to become a more informed patient and to communicate more effectively with your doctor and other health professionals.  

Consumer's Guide to Taking Charge of Medical Information
This guide, developed by the Harvard School of Public Health, helps consumers can understand terms and concepts often used in medical news stories. Written in a humorous style, it also  helps the reader understand the concept of “risk” and offers  tips to determine if the source of the information is reliable.

 Deciphering Medspeak
This guide will help you learn the specialized language of health professionals and to understand the medical shorthand doctors use when writing out a prescription.  The guide is published by the Medical Library Association.

 HealthNewsReviews
This site was designed to help journalists develop more critical appraisal skills when writing a story on health or medicine. It also offers guidance to consumers to help them evaluate the medical and research news reported in the various media.  News from about fifty different media is monitored and each story is given a score based on certain criteria.  The site was developed by the  University of Minnesota  School of Journalism & Mass Communication and the Foundation for  Informed Medical Decision Making.  Read the “About” section and also the section on “How We Rate Stories”.

 Interpreting News on Diet and Nutrition
Confused by all the conflicting stories about what’s good to eat and what’s not?  This site by the Harvard School of Public Health will help you understand why there is often conflicting information reported in studies on diet and nutrition.  It also describes in easy to understand language the different types of studies and offers advice on deciphering media stories on diet and nutrition.
 

Understanding Risk: What Do Those Headlines Really Mean
News stories are often sensationalized to attract readers and viewers.  How often have you heard or seen a news headline only to find out after reading the story that the headline was misleading? This fact sheet from the National Institute on Aging will help improve your understanding of these stories and to better judge the results that are really important and ones that are interesting but not a reason to change how you take care of yourself.      

 

  

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