Media coverage of scientific presentations

Constantine N Aroney
Med J Aust 2002; 177 (7): . || doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2002.tb04842.x
Published online: 7 October 2002

To the Editor: The front-page article in the Sydney Morning Herald on 7 June this year1 highlights the problem of premature media coverage of a scientific presentation,2 potentially causing distress and confusion. Without being subjected to full peer-review and unavailable for analysis in its full published form, such data should not be presented to the public as scientific fact, and should not be sensationalised so as to encourage patients and doctors to change management. A small single-centre observational study is regarded as Level 4 evidence and cannot be used to recommend a change in management. At most, such data might be considered hypothesis-generating and used as the basis for a properly conducted clinical trial.

  • Department of Cardiology, Prince Charles Hospital, Chermside, QLD.


  • 1. Robotham J. Doctors warn: just one tablet of aspirin a day may be enough to do you serious harm. Sydney Morning Herald 2002; 7 June: 1.
  • 2. Bertouch J, Lee L, McNeill HP, Bolin T. The impact of cyclo-oxygenase II (COX-II) inhibitors on gastrointestinal (GIT) bleeding. Poster 30. Presented at the combined meeting of the Australian Rheumatology Association and the New Zealand Rheumatology Association. Christchurch, NZ: 28 May 2002. Sydney: Australian Rheumatology Association, 2002.
  • 3. Collaborative overview of randomised trials of antiplatelet therapy — I: Prevention of death, myocardial infarction, and stroke by prolonged antiplatelet therapy in various categories of patients. Antiplatelet Trialists' Collaboration. BMJ 1994; 308: 81-106.
  • 4. Galea J, Manche A, Goiti JJ, et al. Omission of aspirin in patients following coronary artery bypass graft surgery. J Clin Pharm Ther 1994; 19: 381-386.
  • 5. Swedish Aspirin Low-Dose Trial (SALT) of 75 mg aspirin as secondary prophylaxis after cerbrovascular ischemic events. The SALT Collaborative Group. Lancet 1991; 338: 1345-1349.


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