For those who are seeking health information for themselves or loved ones it is useful to be able to read primary source material and understand the significance and limitations of the findings. However, I think it is asking too much of people to insist they spend their time reading numerous research papers just to understand the health issues that concern them. I believe there is a need for those who are going through the research and distilling the information to make it easier to absorb for people who are busy with work, family, and other activities. In order for people to decide if the information they are getting is accurate they should consider reading some of the original research and seeing if it backs up the claims being made. Chris Kresser’s recent article on reading and understanding scientific research could be very useful in this regard:
In today’s world of conflicting interests, flawed science, and sensationalized media, it’s important to question new claims and findings, especially when those findings could have serious implications for your health. One of the most important things you can do to make sure you’re getting the real scoop (aside from reading my articles, of course!) is to read the scientific literature yourself.
Another good resource for people to be aware of is a series of articles by Trisha Greenhalgh available for free at the BMJ:
On this page you will find links to articles in the BMJ that explain how to read and interpret different kinds of research papers: