MedicalNews reviews a series of studies found to be industry-funded and candidates for biased results
Indoor tanning is an unfavoured risky practice that has been studied by both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the World Health Organization (WHO). Author Maria Cohut explains that with the negative results determined by the CDC and WHO there are still studies conducted that have reached the opposite conclusion. Some studies for indoor tanning conclude that the practice is safe to take part in, and even possibly beneficial. The purpose of this article is to inform consumers of bias within industry funded studies. Cohut writes this informative article in a completely unbiased way using independent sources to back claims she makes.
Cohut looks into how these studies can exist when there is contradictory proof; she found that the researchers that had beneficial or positive outcomes from tanning studies received tanning industry funding. Funding skews the results of studies to the favoured outcome by causing researchers to focus on the positives and not mentioning the negatives. Cohut proves this with the use of a study by the BMJ whose authors looked at studies and research concerning indoor tanning where they found that 78% of the industry funded studies reached a positive outcome, and only 4% of non-industry funded studies had the same results.
Cohut does not sway from the title and intent of the article and proves throughout the article, with help from independent sources, that industry funding can in fact skew the results of research and studies. She is sure to include that the scale of the positively skewed research is relatively small but is still harmful to a person who is misinformed. This is the first study done on the subject, but the results of monitoring funded studies prove a conflict of interest. Overall, the article does a good job explaining how industry funding can interfere with studies by skewing the results to a biased and favoured outcome.
Maria Cohut reports in Medical News Today on a systematic review done to assess the possible bias of industry-funded research articles on the safety and effects of indoor tanning. Cohut reports that the research, conducted at Stanford University School of Medicine, found that 50 of the 691 studies examined received financial backing from the indoor tanning industry, and 78% of those studies presented positive data about the practice. The study also notes that only 4% of the non-financially backed studies provided similar positive conclusions. The review of the indoor tanning literature was published in the peer-reviewed journal the BMJ. It concludes that bias is indeed present in these industry-backed studies and therefore, encourages people to be careful when interpreting evidence presented by scientific literature.
Cohut provides an unbiased and easy-to-read discussion of the methods and findings of the systematic review. The article begins by providing expert definitions of indoor tanning and the current warnings of the practice by the CDC and the WHO, which is helpful background on the subject. Then, Cohut goes on to discuss the Stanford research study and clearly outlines the scientific process they used, an important aid to readers who would perhaps be unfamiliar with how a systematic literature review is conducted. Providing additional independent sources to explain the problem of bias in industry-funded research studies could have given readers a deeper understanding of the larger issues at hand. However, overall, Cohut provides a concise and well-explained report on the indoor tanning literature study.
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