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Research Article

Misrepresentation of Randomized Controlled Trials in Press Releases and News Coverage: A Cohort Study

  • Amélie Yavchitz,

    Affiliations: INSERM, U738, Paris, France, Centre d'Épidémiologie Clinique, AP-HP (Assistance Publique des Hôpitaux de Paris), Hôpital Hôtel Dieu, Paris, France, Université Paris Descartes, Sorbonne Paris Cité, Faculté de Médecine, Paris, France

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  • Isabelle Boutron mail,

    isabelle.boutron@htd.aphp.fr

    Affiliations: INSERM, U738, Paris, France, Centre d'Épidémiologie Clinique, AP-HP (Assistance Publique des Hôpitaux de Paris), Hôpital Hôtel Dieu, Paris, France, Université Paris Descartes, Sorbonne Paris Cité, Faculté de Médecine, Paris, France

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  • Aida Bafeta,

    Affiliations: INSERM, U738, Paris, France, Centre d'Épidémiologie Clinique, AP-HP (Assistance Publique des Hôpitaux de Paris), Hôpital Hôtel Dieu, Paris, France, Université Paris Descartes, Sorbonne Paris Cité, Faculté de Médecine, Paris, France

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  • Ibrahim Marroun,

    Affiliation: Department of Internal Medicine, Hôpital Foch, Suresnes, France

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  • Pierre Charles,

    Affiliation: Department of Internal Medicine, Hôpital Foch, Suresnes, France

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  • Jean Mantz,

    Affiliation: Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care, Beaujon University Hospital, Clichy, France

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  • Philippe Ravaud

    Affiliations: INSERM, U738, Paris, France, Centre d'Épidémiologie Clinique, AP-HP (Assistance Publique des Hôpitaux de Paris), Hôpital Hôtel Dieu, Paris, France, Université Paris Descartes, Sorbonne Paris Cité, Faculté de Médecine, Paris, France

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  • Published: September 11, 2012
  • DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001308
  • Featured in PLOS Collections

Reader Comments (4)

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Are the press the problem

Posted by DRRSL on 12 Sep 2012 at 16:15 GMT

The authors have highlighted a broad systemic problem where investigators and their institutions, medical journals, PR staff and the press are all oriented in the same direction, toward positive "spin." Although the authors failed to analyze the entire articles for spin which would be helpful in future studies, it is clear that overly positive conclusions reach the published abstract despite editorial and peer review. Since journals seem to benefit from the resulting enhanced attention this is very understandable and even predictable. By the time the positive spin makes its way from the abstract to the press release to the news coverage, the initial bias may be exaggerated further. If the findings of this study are reproducible, editorial staffs will need to carefully evaluate their processes to eliminate the initial spin with follow up reevaluation of the effect on reporting bias.

No competing interests declared.