Read the fine print: who funded that study?

Whenever I hear about new medical research, I always ask one question first: who funded it?

Too often, reporters — even reporters for respected news sources like Reuters — don’t give us this essential information when they cover new studies.

Take, for example, the flurry of recent news items with titles like “Morning sickness linked to smarter babies” and “Study links morning sickness to higher IQ.” I found this kind of an intriguing idea, so I read the Reuters article. The article didn’t mention the study’s funder, but the very small size of the group they studied, and the fact that they also studied the safety of a drug for morning sickness, made me suspicious.

A quick visit to the website of the Journal of Pediatrics, the study’s publisher, showed me I was right: the fine print on the abstract indicated that the study was funded by the maker of the anti-nausea drug, and one of the study’s authors is a paid consultant for the company. Why, exactly, didn’t Reuters think this was worth mentioning?

The only article I found (on an admittedly cursory search) that brought up the obvious problems with the study was this one on the website doublex.com.

9 Comments »

  1. Caitlin said,

    November 18, 2009 @ 6:18 pm

    Questioning is essential if you’re interested in the truth.
    Keep up the good work.

  2. Jaspenelle said,

    November 18, 2009 @ 6:21 pm

    My mother (who use to work at a veterinary university that did some medical studies) always taught me to be suspicious of these “studies”. It always bugs me when reporters don’t dig into a story and get all that background information. It makes me wonder who is really paying them.

  3. Delphyne said,

    November 19, 2009 @ 7:44 am

    That’s the best question to ask on all “studies” and who is actually benefiting from that “study.” Great post!

  4. pogostemon said,

    November 19, 2009 @ 9:08 am

    I have always responded to any statement that quotes scientific research “proves” one thing or another with the question
    “Who is paying the Scientist?”
    Great post thanks
    Lorraine

  5. LifeStyle said,

    December 15, 2009 @ 4:12 pm

    That is true. Once news was out that playing video games increases hand – eye coordination. I checked who funded this study and I found it was video game company. How do you trust?

    Thanks

    LifeStyle

  6. Lenn said,

    September 5, 2010 @ 1:33 pm

    Glad I’m not the only one who notices these sorts of things…Like the new “high fructose corn syrup will make you crap rainbows” commercials that are paid for by the Corn Refiners Association. What a laugh.

  7. Michelle said,

    November 21, 2010 @ 1:28 pm

    Finally, a blog with sense. I keep telling anyone who will listen, stop regurgitating info written about this study and that study without knowing who is behind the study. There was one recently where the cause of CCD in honeybees was discovered (of course the study claimed it wasn’t pesticides). Dig a little deeper and you learn the study was funded by Bayer Crop Science (pesticides).

    I only accept unbiased studies.

    Thank you for sharing!

  8. Evita said,

    May 22, 2011 @ 9:36 am

    Excellent observation!

    Today’s studies in general just don’t hold much weight. Too many of them are done and interpreted based on various agendas. Doing research for my most recent book, I literally found a study that can prove and disprove almost anything. Now that’s helpful… not.

    And so I have found too that we need to seriously go back more to our innate wisdom, common sense, intuition or whatever people feel comfortable calling it. We look externally for the answers and want to be told what to eat, what not to eat, and how to live, etc…. we simple need to wake up and realize that everything that we need is already within us.

  9. chris @ backacrehomestead.com said,

    July 11, 2012 @ 1:37 pm

    I’ve noticed that studies are almost always funded by someone that has interest in said study having a certain outcome. This in itself causes the study to be biased. (Obviously!)

    I don’t listen to popular media much at all these days, but listen even less when they are discussing some new study…

    Like Evita said, common sense or gut instinct are far more valuable than any news story about food or health in most cases.

    Chris

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