--Original published at Emily's Blog
Media Production Project (original: 444 words) (new: 404 words)
What is the obsession with drinking coffee in the morning? Alberto Ascherio of Harvard School of Public Health believes, “Drinking coffee offers a boost of energy and a lift in well-being. This short-term effect is what drives the consumption of caffeine,” The question remains, does drinking coffee affect our mental health? Alberto Ascherio and his team were also curious about this because coffee is the highest consumed caffeinated substance in the world. So, Ascherio and his team studied 50,000 women with a mean age of 63 to see the effects of coffee consumption on their depression rates. After eliminating those who were currently clinically depressed, there was a total of 50,739 women. The team checked in on the women every two years and assessed their coffee consumption with questionnaires. Surveys were also sent to the women to assess their depression rates, social interactions, physical health, mental health, exercise rate, their consumption of decaffeinated coffee, and their consumption of other caffeinated substances. This data was averaged together and included in their research. From this information, the researchers split up the data into categories based on how much coffee they consumed daily. The results of this study show the regular coffee drinkers reported lower issues with obesity and other health-related issues including depressive symptoms. To check for inconsistencies in their calculations, the team created more categories involving the women who became clinically depressed during the study as well as one assessing the consumption of decaffeinated coffee and caffeinated substances other than coffee. The women who had become depressed over a 10-year period of the study showed results of less coffee consumption than others. Comments were added by the team at the end of the report explaining the risks of using coffee as an anti-depressant mainly due to its addictive tendencies. They explained some of the strengths of their study including the large sample size, assessment of outside variables, and repeated measures of consumption. The team is careful to note this study was observational and thus cannot prove caffeine or coffee aids in possible risks of depression. They noted the bias in which the study included women with mild depressive symptoms, possibly those with sleep issues, and the possible inconsistencies in the reports of the women’s caffeine consumption. In conclusion, this study shows results which support the claim that caffeine consumption through coffee may possibly prevent and/or treat depression. So, feel free to keep drinking coffee, ladies!
Although my summary was shorter than the original article, I chose to leave certain aspects out. From the scholarly article, I did not include why they chose to study women over men. This is because about 20% of women are affected by depression in their lifetime. Also, women are more likely to become depressed than men. I did not include the time which the study took place which was from the late 1980s to the early 2000s. The audience understands the team reached out to the women and gathered data every two years which is more important than what period in which the study occurred. Another part of the scholarly article which I chose to leave out was what specific caffeinated substances, other than coffee, the researchers chose to add to their study. These include tea, soft drinks, and chocolate.
In the pop culture article, I chose to leave out some of the quotes and other outside sources which the author put in the article. This includes talking about the study done for men in Finland to test their coffee consumption. While this is evidence supports the argument that coffee lowers depression rates, it is not an important part of the experiment. My summary is not similar to the original pop-culture article because it contains more specifics about the experiment including how the women were chosen and what the process was of conducting the research. The pop-culture article fails to answer many of the five critical questions as they do not share about how they operationalized their variables, how they selected the participants, and what groups they assigned. They did include some information about whether there would be causal claims and the conclusions were generalized to the correct population of women.
I did include the five critical questions in my summary though I did not specifically restate them. The researchers operationalized their variables by measuring how much coffee they consumed every two years and putting the women into groups based on whether they were clinically depressed if they exercised daily, and if they were having frequent social interactions. Ascherio and his team chose their participants by using 50,000 volunteers who were not clinically depressed at the beginning of the experiment. The team assigned the women to groups based on their coffee consumption per day as well as their physical and mental health throughout the study. The method the researchers used did allow for causal claims because it was set up to see whether coffee affected women’s health. The research could not prove this causal claim because there is not enough evidence and there are many other variables possibly influencing the women. The conclusions of this study are generalized to women which were the participants being studied.
Journalists have specific deadlines for their work and a certain word count they must stay under. This causes the articles they write to miss key information which could be crucial to the audience’s understanding of the article. The pop-culture and scholarly articles were vastly different from each other. Other than the pop-culture having similar statistics and referencing Ascherio as the main researcher I would not have known the two articles were about the same study. This causes me to pause and look at media articles more in depth. I will look to see if they have answered the five critical questions of research and whether there is an original study which was done to support pop-culture articles conclusions.
Ascherio, Alberto, et al. “Coffee, Caffeine, and Risk of Depression Among Women.” Archives of Internal Medicine, vol. 171, no. 17, 26 Sept. 2011, pp. 1571–1577.
Steenhuysen, Julie. “Coffee linked with lower depression risk in women.” Reuters, Archives of Internal Medicine, 27 Sept. 2011, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-coffee-depression/coffee-linked-with-lower-depression-risk-in-women-idUSTRE78Q3GK20110927.