Research Exercise

Secondary Literature

http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2014/06/19/depression-a-powerful-risk-factor-for-heart-disease-in-young-women/

This article talked about a study that found that depression is a risk factor for heart disease, especially in young women. According to the study results, depressed women under the age of 55 were twice as likely to have a heart attack or die of heart disease in the next few years. These results were not the same for women over 55. A suggested reason for this is that when people get depressed, they stop taking care of themselves and get sick; the article notes that when sick people stop taking care of themselves, they get depressed. It is difficult to determine which came first. The articles also states that the results of another study support the first one. The end of the article offers advice to get help for depression.

Primary Literature

http://jaha.ahajournals.org/content/3/3/e000741.full

The primary literature was the study that the most of the article focuses on. The study first states that young women with coronary artery disease (CAD) have higher rates of depression and higher risk of adverse events than men of similar age. It identifies its goal as identifying whether depression in young women is associated with higher risk of CAD than in older women and similarly aged men. Patients who were undergoing surgery for CAD were given a Patient Health Questionnaire to assess their mental state. The study found that depression was associated with CAD in women less than 55 years, but not in men less than 55 years. Depression was also associated with increased risk of death in women less than 55 years, but not in men less than 55 years and women more than 55 years old. The study concluded that depressive symptoms are associated with increased risk of death, particularly in young women.

Do you think the popular piece accurately reflects the scientific finding?

I do think the popular piece accurately reflects the scientific finding. The popular piece mentions various, accurate statistics from the study. There are also comments from the author of the study that elaborate on the results of his study, and those comments are accurate as well. However, these additional comments take away from the results of the study. They are more speculative than proven, which is a little confusing. The popular piece mentions the methodology accurately and simply, as well. Overall, it is an accurate representation of the scientific finding.

How are these two different?

The study is far more specific and detailed than the article. One area where this is obvious is in statistical analysis, the scientific finding states specific statistics such as confidence intervals and p-values, but the popular piece does not mention any of these. However, people who have not taken a statistics course may not understand these numbers. The popular media piece does not provide any graphs or tables or specific numbers from these either. Also, the scientific finding goes into far more detail about the methodology and results.

Where are the aspects exaggerated or misrepresented?

I think there are aspects of the scientific finding misrepresented when the author of the popular piece discusses the author of the study’s thoughts. The popular piece mentions that Dr. Shah, author of the study, believes there is a biological reason for the results of the study, but is unsure of the exact reason. In the article, they speculate about the biological reason behind the results, which misrepresents the true findings of the study and the conclusions that can be drawn from it.

How would you improve the popular media piece?

To improve the popular media piece, I would first remove the section where they speculate on the biological reasoning behind the study results. This will make the article more clear and a better representation of the scientific study. I would also remove the mention of a second, separate study. It would be better for this article to focus on one specific study and give more details for that study alone.

2 responses to “Research Exercise”

  1. Brianna Margaret Cathey says:

    I also found that the secondary source misconstrued the claims of the author of the original piece in that they the author is not stating his extrapolations of his data as factual information, rather he suggests that something might be related to the results. I agree that more graphs and raw data should be included in the secondary source, even if readers do not understand how to read it. The more data, the better and more substantial the news source is.

  2. Dhruv Mohnot says:

    At least the popular piece was somewhat similar to the scholarly study! I would agree that focusing on just one study would definitely enhance the representation of that study in a popular media piece.

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