What is Behind the Headlines?

Behind the Headlines

Wednesday September 7 2011

Sir Muir Gray set up the service in 2007

Behind the Headlines provides an unbiased and evidence-based analysis of health stories that make the news.

The service is intended for both the public and health professionals, and endeavours to:

  • explain the facts behind the headlines and give a better understanding of the science that makes the news,
  • provide an authoritative resource for GPs that they can rely on when talking to patients, and
  • become a trusted resource for journalists and others involved in the dissemination of health news.

Behind the Headlines is the brainchild of Sir Muir Gray, who set up the service in 2007.

“Scientists hate disease and want to see it conquered," said Sir Muir. "But this can lead to them taking an overly optimistic view of their discoveries which is often reflected in newspaper headlines.

“Our service has more time to examine the science behind the stories. Independent experts check the findings and assess the research methods to provide a more considered view."

'In the 21st century, knowledge is the key element to improving health. In the same way that people need clean, clear water, they have a right to clean, clear knowledge' Sir Muir Gray

Sir Muir Gray has worked in public health for 35 years. He helped pioneer Britain's breast and cervical cancer screening programmes and was knighted in 2005 for the development of the foetal, maternal and child screening programme and the creation of the National Library for Health. He is also the founder of the National Knowledge Service.

How Behind the Headlines works

  • Each day the NHS Choices team selects health stories that are making headlines.
  • These, along with the scientific articles behind the stories, are sent to Bazian, a leading provider of evidence-based healthcare information.
  • Bazian's clinicians and scientists analyse the research and produce impartial evidence-based assessments, which are edited and published by NHS Choices.

Read more about the production process.

Behind the Headlines services

Behind the Headlines aims to respond to news stories the day they appear in the media.

Behind the Headlines is also available in RSS format, and XML feeds for web publishers wishing to carry the service on their own sites will soon be made live.

Edited by NHS Choices


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The 3 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

David Colquhoun said on 21 February 2013

Well there's a disappointment. I thought that Muir Gray wrote it. Now I discover it's yet another contracted-out service.

Nevertheless the quality is usually quite high. The only problem I have is that the reports are unsigned. I much prefer to know who's written stuff, because you soon get an idea about who is reliable and who isn't.

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Ian PT said on 15 March 2012

A really good idea, and a site I visit regularly. It is objective, and provides a good balance of detail, allowing the reader to make their own decision.
I become very annoyed with easy newspaper headlines along the lines of "Get Fit in just 2 minutes a day" or "Running is more dangerous than sitting on a couch". This page not only gives the detail, rather than just concentrating on gimmick, but also the source of the study is of huge importance. Knowing whether a story is based on a study of 10 people or 20,000 affects its' credibility.
Long may people be employed to keep this page going and to help us to make up our own minds.

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hutchmaker said on 29 February 2012

I find the Behind the Headlines site usefull for my work on an almost daily basis and wondered if the NHS Choices Team would consider reviewing last nights Horizon programme Fit in 3 Minutes? Link to BBC Health news - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-17177251

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