World Federation of Science Journalists

Medical Evidence Boot Camp

December 1–4, 2009
Boston, Massachusetts

One of the most difficult challenges facing journalists who cover health is the uncertainty of nearly all medical evidence. Many studies come to contradictory conclusions, yet the public’s interest in medical news and the need for reliable health information is growing. To help journalists make sense of all this, we offer an intensive course, now in its eighth year, on how to evaluate medical evidence.

Boot Camp begins with an overview of clinical and epidemiological research methods, giving you tools to understand and evaluate medical studies. Through lectures and discussions, we’ll look at science’s increasingly sophisticated ways of studying disease, determining causes and evaluating preventions and treatments.

We’ll explore the politics and ethics of how new drugs are tested, often by the companies that stand to profit from them. And we’ll look at how the FDA, the NIH and other agencies evaluate treatments, old and new. Finally, we’ll look at the rise of a new phenomenon called “evidence-based medicine.” (Don’t be surprised to learn that a lot of what doctors do has little or no evidence to prove that it works.)

Knight Science Journalism Fellowships boot camps are not designed to generate news, but to give you the background to find the stories before they break and to understand them when they do.

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