Almost daily we hear news stories about new health-related research findings. Some make claims about how effective a product or treatment is while others cause fear.
You don’t have to be an expert to make sense of media stories. Here are some ways to help you makes sense of the article.
- Has the study been conducted with people? Laboratory or animal research is useful, but unless tested in people, there’s no guarantee that it’s safe for human use.
- How many people are included in the study? The larger the study, the better.
- What method was used in the study? Randomized controlled clinical trials give the most useful information about whether a treatment or a lifestyle change is effective.
- What is the context? The research should be in line with previous studies. Results repeated several times appear to be more valid.
About an article:
- Read beyond the captivating headlines. Be cautious about claims of “proof”, “cause” or “cure” or absolute recommendations based only on one study.
- Consider the source. Credible research is conducted by a respected scientific or medical expert and published in a reputable, peer-reviewed journal.
- Check with local professionals and experts about the credibility of the news story. Communicate your concerns about a topic with your doctor, pharmacist, librarian or health organizations; they can give helpful advice.
Here are a few other tips to help you identify reliable dementia health information:
- Look for the credentials and education of the author (usually listed alongside their name or at the end of an article).
- See if the information is published or funded by a trustworthy organization. Universities, research centres, non-profits, advocacy groups, hospitals or public health agencies are often trustworthy organizations.
- Watch for a lot of spelling mistakes, grammar errors or advertisements – it can mean that the information is from a less reliable source.
- Question the author’s reason for sharing the information. Usually, reliable authors/sources are interested in sharing well-researched knowledge to help and inform others. If the author is trying to sell a product, service or treatment – it’s best to look for more evidence to support their claims.
- Be cautious of old or outdated information – anything 10 years or older should be read with caution as it may no longer be accurate.
(The Alzheimer Society does not necessarily agree with or endorse any of the following articles.)
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