Now, because of the nature of this “observational study”—where no intervention is introduced, where subjects aren’t randomized, where researchers just look at the link between an exposure to something and a certain outcome—the authors of the article were careful to acknowledge that, “Whether this was a causal or associational finding cannot be determined from our data.” Yet, this brief but crucial note seemed to be lost in some of the reporting on the subject or referenced only several paragraphs after hyperbolic headlines and opening sentences.
Inspired by the great review of U.S. coverage by Gary Schwitzer, Science-ish looked at how the big coffee study was packaged—headline and leading paragraphs—in our nation’s newspapers:
From the Vancouver Sun: “Coffee drinkers live longer, big study finds”
“One of life’s simple pleasures just got a little sweeter. After years of waffling research on coffee and health, even some fear that java might raise the risk of heart disease, a big study finds the opposite: Coffee drinkers are a little more likely to live longer. Regular or decaf doesn’t matter.”
Source - Macleans CA