Around the world, the number of people living with type 2 diabetes continues to rise. The number and different types of medicine available to offer people with this type of diabetes is also growing. This is complicated by the increasing number of clinical research trials where these new drugs are tested, often against common existing drugs. Doctors need to have quick and easy access to the latest research to make informed decisions with patients. Also, new research findings can be shared by the media and presented to patients.
Spinning the results of clinical trials
Researchers are now looking at the quality of shared medical information. They found that new findings are often presented in a biased way. To study this, researchers reviewed recent articles, including major reviews of new research on drugs for type 2 diabetes, to see if the information had been subject to spin. “Spin” refers to the misinterpretation and distortion of a study’s findings. This means that the article is written in a way that highlights the benefits of the experimental treatment more than the actual results show. For example, this might mean the authors overstate the new drug’s effectiveness and/or under report its harm. Spin could mislead a doctor, resulting in harm to a patient. The researchers found spin occured in 8% of the articles. Previously, others have reported that two thirds of health news stories failed to address cost and quantify harms and benefits. Any amount of spin in the original study report is therefore unwelcome.
Any spinning of results is unwelcome
Doctors rely heavily on up-to-date research to improve their patient care. Doctors need to be aware of spin in articles to help them filter out studies that may downplay side effects or create bias in favor of the new drug when it is not warranted. At https://latinodiabetes.sansum.org, we try very hard to avoid sharing articles in which results have been spun.