Author Interviews, JAMA / 11.06.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Andrew Grey, MD Department of Medicine University of Auckland Auckland, New Zealand Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Grey: Observational research is commonly conducted and often published in prominent medical journals, leading to reporting of the results by news media. Because of methodological limitations, in particular the absence of random allocation of participants to the interventions being studied, observational studies cannot be used to draw conclusions about causality. We wondered whether these important study limitations were apparent in news reporting of observational studies. Our analysis demonstrated low levels of reporting of limitations of observational research in the Abstract section of published papers and accompanying journal press releases, and in news stories generated in response to publication of the research. The reporting of the limitation that causal inferences could not be drawn was very low. Failing to identify and report limitations of observational research might promote the initiation and/or continuation of medical practices based on low level evidence.