The media influence on patients and medical stories

Does the media accurately report medical news?

According to a poll from the ACP Internist, most respondents don’t think so. Some of the problems come from the academic medical center PR departments, which either “overstate results or don’t include important caveats when pitching study results to the media.” Often times, these press releases make their way into the media and disseminated to patients.

In today’s competitive environment where newspapers and television news fight for an audience with shorter attention spans, it’s difficult to spend the time to present a balance portrayal of new studies or findings.

As one poll respondent accurately notes, “Patients don’t get the language of ‘may be’ that is usually reported in the media.”

I highly recommend reading University of Minnesota journalism professor Gary Schwitzer, who along with his team, do an excellent job dissecting various media reports on medical news.

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