Health Issues in the Headlines: Learning to Read Between the Lines

MLA Course
Listing Archived: Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Primary contact information...
NN/LM Pacific Northwest Region
University of Washington
Box 357155
Seattle WA , 98195
United States
Carolyn Martin is the primary contact.
Phone: 206-221-3449
Fax: 206-543-2469
Resource URL:
Region: Pacific Northwest

Description: Dark chocolate, red wine, and stem cells - what do these have in common? All have been reported in the news as having health benefits. Often the first place your patrons will hear aobut health issues is in the media. This interactive, hands-on CE course will introduce participants to the environment of health reporting. Participants will learn about how health is reported in the news as well as how to evaluate the accuracy and validity of science and health stories. The impact of celebrity illness will also be discussed. By the end of this course, participants will be better equipped to help their patrons look more critically at health issues that are being reported in the news media. Actual news articles and research reports will be included for critique.

Experience Level: Beginning Plus
CE Contact Hours: 4
Professional Competencies: Health Sciences Information Services, Research + Analysis and Interpretation
Subject: Consumer Health, Research
Course Type: e-Learning, RML Offerings

Educational Objective: Participants will: be able to describe the environment of medical reporting; gain a deeper level of knowledge of the origins of health news stories, including the impact of celebrity illness; gain an understanding of the resposibilities of scientists in conducting and describing their research to the public; and know how to critically evaluate health news stories and the research reports on which they are based.


Introduction - 15 minutes;
Environment of health reporting - 50 minutes - sources of news stories, training of health journalists, challenges for health journalists, video, where do librarians fit in? scientist's perspective;
Impact of celebrity illnesses - 60 minutes - celebrity-generated news, Brian Piccolo, Steve McQueen, Arthur Ashe, the Odones, the balance between responsible reporting and protecting patient privacy; Break - 15 minutes; 
Newspaper stories about health and medicine - 20 minutes - What to watch for, Go back to the source, Look at actual newspaper articles;
Anatomy of a research article - 40 minutes - Abstract, Methods, Results, Conclusions, Absolute vs. Relative Risk, Statistical Significance, Analyzing an actual research article;
Wrap-up and evaluation - 20 minutes

The instructional methods used include Demonstration, Learning Videotape, Discussion, Sharing/Self-disclosure, Hands-on Exercises, and Case Study.