“Spin” prevalent in biomedical research papers
A PLOS Biology study which examined 35 published meta-analyses and systematic reviews of spin has found that this science hype is prevalent across biomedical studies. While it was difficult to consistently define spin, the study found that over 26 percent of meta-analyses and systematic reviews contained such hype. Spin strategies included selective reporting of data, inappropriate claims about non-significant results, and unrealistically favorable presentation of data.
The extent to which factors such as conflicts of interest affect likelihood of spin is unclear, but future research could examine how these characteristics, as well as the broader culture of research incentives and reward structures in biomedical science, may contribute to this high prevalence of spin.
Research Article: Chiu K, Grundy Q, Bero L (2017) ‘Spin’ in published biomedical literature: A methodological systematic review. PLoS Biol 15(9): e2002173. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.2002173
Image Credit: Nicolas Raymond, Flickr, CC-BY
Depression and alcohol problems improved long term with primary care interventions
Depression and alcoholism may be the most major mental health concerns globally, and they have large social and economic effects. A study in PLOS Medicine reports that two brief interventions can have long-lasting impact for each condition. Known as the Healthy Activity Programme, for depression, and Counselling for Alcohol Problems, both interventions involved psychological care delivered by lay counsellors in primary care settings in India.
The researchers found that the interventions were effective in reducing depressive symptom severity and rates of harmful drinking among participants throughout one year of monitoring. According to the authors, this is the first evidence that this brief psychological therapy delivered as part of primary care can lead to such sustained, cost-effective improvements in health.
Research Article: Weobong B, Weiss HA, McDaid D, Singla DR, Hollon SD, Nadkarni A, et al. (2017) Sustained effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of the Healthy Activity Programme, a brief psychological treatment for depression delivered by lay counsellors in primary care: 12-month follow-up of a randomised controlled trial. PLoS Med 14(9): e1002385. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1002385