In this era of rapid communication and intense media and public interest in medical news, it has become common for clinical investigators or their institutions to call press conferences and make public announcements of new research developments. Although it is desirable for the media to obtain accurate information about scientific developments, researchers should approach public pronouncements carefully and use language that does not invite misinterpretation or unjustified extrapolation.
In general, press releases should be issued and press conferences held only after the research has been published in a peer–reviewed journal or presented in a proper and complete abstract so that the details of the study are available to the scientific community. Statements of scientists receive great visibility. An announcement of preliminary results, even couched in the most careful terms, is frequently reported by the media as a “Breakthrough”. Care must be taken to avoid raising false public expectations and embarrassing the scientists involved, both of which reduce the credibility of the scientific community as a whole.