Almost daily the broadcast and print media announce new evidence that, for example, doctors could spot autism earlier by observing how toddlers respond to cartoons or that there is a direct link between passive smoking and dementia. These reports seldom cite the source and, worse, often report the findings selectively or inaccurately.
NHS Choices runs an excellent website called Behind the Headlines which provides extensive background to these headline-grabbing stories, describing in detail the subtleties of the study and the extent to which the media may have misinterpreted the findings. Its objective is to provide 'an unbiased and evidence-based analysis of health stories that make the news'. The content, naturally, tends to focus on health but much will be of interest to the social services, for example on mental health or older people.
The service is intended for both the public and health professionals. Each day the NHS Choices team selects health stories that are making headlines and sends them to Bazian, an organisation specialising in providing evidence-based healthcare information. Bazian's clinicians and scientists analyse the research and produce impartial evidence-based assessments, which are edited and published by NHS Choices.
Behind the Headlines is also available as an RSS feed and an email alerting service is planned. So, next time you wake to sensational news that young people could be screened for Alzheimers, take a look Behind the Headlines.