Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Wisdom Wednesday: Health Research Dissemination

I’ve been blogging for the past five years trying to inform you about new developments in health and health care. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has been a constant source of information for those blogs.

PubMed, the official publication of NIH, posts peer reviewed research and research papers presented at conferences all over the world. As you might imagine, that’s a lot of data and unless you know what you are looking for, new information is difficult to find.

Research is arranged by the number of citations in other research, so the new stuff is often buried behind older research. To remedy this issue, a team of writers glom through the web site, pulling out new research of interest to health care professionals and the general public.

At least, that is the way it used to work. Starting in 2018, Medical News Today, the official newsletter of NIH, contains “headlines from the past week.” The weekly publication begins with advertisement for various drugs. This week the ads are for “Relapsed Multiple Myeloma – Updated Treatment Option Info,” “Psoriasis Treatment,” and “Osteoporosis Information.”

Current research is scant. Instead, general health tips are provided in article format. Here is a smattering of this week’s selections: “Causes of shortness of breath during pregnancy,” Chinese restaurant syndrome: What you need to know,” “How men can improve their sexual performance,” “The riddle of human nipple sizes,” “What to know about anal herpes,” “Is having vaginal pressure during pregnancy normal,” “Does nipple stimulation help to induce labor,” “What causes chest pain and vomiting,” “What causes bellybutton pain during pregnancy,” “Why does it hurt when I swallow, “Are Epsom salt baths safe during pregnancy,” “What causes a nosebleed at night,” and “How to fix peeling nails.”

I know the current administration put a gag order on the EPA and I suspect a similar shift has occurred in all of science and health care. However, the Washington Post and New York Times have followed suit which makes me question the integrity of these two publications as well.

This year I’ve had to look to alternative sources for current information on health care research. The Wiley Online Library is one such source. They independently publish the latest research from 1600 peer reviewed journals, carry over 21,000 online books and have performed over 200 retrospective studies on topics of interest.

On occasion, you might see me blog directly from a research paper. I try to reduce the technical jargon, although sometimes I have to include some of it to present the research in perspective. I know many of you skip the bottom line rather than plow through the body of research, but I would rather you understand the conclusions of the authors prior to reading my perspective. To that end, I try to keep the blogs short and concise.

The Bottom Line:
Scientific research is being buried in this country. I suspect financial support will also be cut off, especially from government sources. This leaves the burden of research on the drug companies and their agenda is based solely on profit. I’ve often written that you have to be your own health advocate. Now you need to be a health advocate for others as well.

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