Analysis of a Media Source’s
Coverage on a Research Study
The Wall Street Journal published an article regarding a recent psychopharmacology study on depression done by Dr. Hunter that investigated whether pre-medication brain activity corresponded with treatment outcome. In addition, the article discusses the interesting results garnered from the placebo group v. medicated group analysis. While the news piece does a fair job in representing the study’s findings, the author does delve into extrapolations not statistically supported in the actual study.
Fifty-one adults who were diagnosed with major depression were used in the study, and this was accurately reported by the news article (Wang, 2006). Hunter et al. investigated whether there were significant differences in “demographic characteristics, illness history, baseline illness severity, [and] final response[s],” and finding none, pooled the subjects for analysis (2006, p. 1427). This does give the Journal, who must condense the findings for the public, good reason to fail in reporting this.
The study is experimental in nature, also using double-blind and randomized assignment to help rid the results of confounding variable input. All of the subjects were given a placebo anti-depressant for a one-week lead-in; after this, half of the individuals were continued on the placebo while the others were given one of two anti-depressants. Electroencephalograph (EEG) readings were taken at the time of enrollment, after the lead-in period, and several times later (over an eight week period). The Wall Street Journal condenses this explanation down, and while the article abandons the jargon of an experimenter, it does give the impression of an experimental method being followed.
When the news article explains how the researchers defined their variables they leave out valuable information. The author states that patients with...