What happens when you write to the Daily Mail about factual inaccuracies

On 23 October 2018 16:18 I used the DM factual inaccuracies contact form to complain about an article on using hot baths to cure depression.

Here’s what happened.

I wrote:

There are several problems with this article.

Firstly, it notes that “The research was published in the journal bioRxiv.” This is misleading. bioRxiv is not a journal; it is “a free online archive and distribution service for unpublished preprints in the life sciences” – it is not yet a published paper.

“Articles are not peer-reviewed,” adds the archive’s About page.

Secondly, this is one study with a small sample size and large dropout in one group. There was no statistically significant difference at 8 weeks – and that’s according to a very weak notion of statistical significance which is relatively easy to achieve (p < .05).

Thirdly, even if taking a bath is better than exercise, is exercise an appropriate control group for a study of treatments for depression? Readers might hope you would consult an expert. What do NICE guidelines currently recommend for patients whose depression is as severe as those in the study?

They replied on 24 Oct 2018 at 16:02:

Thank you for your email.

The following article is a description of the bioRxiv report. We are conveying the results of their report, and many of the issues you raise are ones with the bioRxiv report which we do not claim to endorse or state as unequivocal fact.

It is always good to receive feedback from readers, whether positive or negative. The contents of your email have been noted and have been passed to our editor for review.

I can confirm the article has been updated.

We appreciate you taking the time to get in touch.

I’m not reassured very much by the edit, but sharing details of the process in case helpful…

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