New research shows room for improvement in health news

Jun 11, 2008

Research into the news reporting of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in Australia, has revealed that much of the information the public receives through the media is inaccurate or incomplete.

University of Newcastle researchers used Media Doctor, a web-based program that monitors, rates and critiques the accuracy and completeness of health news stories in Australia, to analyse news coverage of CAM. The findings are published on June 11th in the Public Library of Science journal, PLoS ONE.

Lead researcher Dr Billie Bonevski from the University of Newcastle said despite the substantial growth in the use of CAM, very little was known about how the media reported on it.

"The research analysed more than 200 news items about CAM from broadsheet newspapers, tabloid newspapers, online news and television current affairs shows which were tracked by Media Doctor between 1 January 2004 and 1 September 2007.

"Common concerns identified about the reporting of CAM included incomplete descriptions of the research study, lack of information about side-effects and costs, and failure to obtain comment from independent sources," Dr Bonevski said.

Dr Bonevski said journalists faced a number of barriers when producing reports on CAM, including editorial pressure to produce stories quickly, space issues, inadequate media releases from the scientific community, and a lack of good evidence on the effectiveness and safety of CAM.

"Clearer communication between scientists and journalists about this important emerging field is critical to accurate and complete news reports. Researchers can help by ensuring information released contains key facts including the type of study, what the results mean and the potential harms, costs and availability of the new medicine or procedure.

"Considering the substantial evidence of a link between health news reports and health behaviour, it is vital that the information the media provides is accurate, unbiased and complete," Dr Bonevski said.

Source: Public Library of Science

Explore further: Leading medical experts call for an end to UK postcode lottery for liver disease treatment and detection

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

You Are What You Listen To

Aug 27, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- It may not be possible to judge a book by its cover, but judging someone by the contents of their iTunes library could be a very different story, new research suggests.

Hollywood places biggest 3-D bet yet on 'Avatar'

Jul 24, 2009

(AP) -- When James Cameron directed his first 3-D film, "Terminator 2: 3-D," for Universal Studios theme parks more than a decade ago, the bulky camera equipment made some shots awkward or impossible.

Alaska volcano booms online

Apr 14, 2009

The cameras watch her every move. Thousands of strangers want to be her friend, and thousands more follow her latest exploits hour by hour on their laptops and cell phones. She's Mount Redoubt, Internet star.

Recommended for you

Doctor behind 'free radical' aging theory dies

Nov 25, 2014

Dr. Denham Harman, a renowned scientist who developed the most widely accepted theory on aging that's now used to study cancer, Alzheimer's disease and other illnesses, has died in Nebraska at age 98.

Mexican boy who had massive tumor recovering

Nov 25, 2014

An 11-year-old Mexican boy who had pieces of a massive tumor removed and who drew international attention after U.S. officials helped him get treatment in the southwestern U.S. state of New Mexico is still recovering after ...

New medical device to make the mines safer

Nov 21, 2014

Dehydration can be a serious health issue for Australia's mining industry, but a new product to be developed with input from Flinders University's Medical Device Partnering Program (MDPP) is set to more effectively ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.