Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Misleading Media Coverage Of Medicine

Date:
November 26, 2008
Source:
BMC Medicine
Summary:
Media coverage of clinical trials does not contain the elements readers require to make informed decisions. A comparison of the coverage received by pharmaceutical and herbal remedy trials, reported in the journal BMC Medicine, has revealed that it is rarely possible for the lay public to assess the credibility of the described research.

Media coverage of clinical trials does not contain the elements readers require to make informed decisions. A comparison of the coverage received by pharmaceutical and herbal remedy trials, reported in the open access journal BMC Medicine, has revealed that it is rarely possible for the lay public to assess the credibility of the described research.

Tania Bubela from the University of Alberta, Canada, led a team of researchers who investigated 201 pharmaceutical and 352 herbal remedy newspaper articles, and studied the 48 pharmaceutical and 57 herbal remedy clinical trials that the stories referred to. For both complementary and mainstream medicine, stories under-reported risk and lacked any disclosure of trial funding or scientists’ conflicts of interest. Bubela said, “There were significant errors of omission of basic information such as dose, sample size and methods for randomized clinical trials. In addition, there is an under-reporting of risks, especially in the context of herbal remedies”.

The main theme of almost all articles on pharmaceutical clinical trials was the trial itself. This contrasted with articles on herbal remedy clinical trials where 63.6% focused on the trial and the other third focused on other issues such as the myriad uses for any particular herb. The main benefit cited in almost all articles was improved health or treatment options. The study found that the media is overly reliant on narratives from satisfied patients, researchers, clinicians and patient groups - without disclosing these people’s financial ties to industry and conflicts of interest.

According to Bubela, “The study is not all bad news for the media. Slowly they are beginning to report on the welcome trend of evidence based clinical trials for complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), including herbal remedies. Unfortunately, the media still rely for their sources on high quality medical journals, which are more likely to report negative results about CAM and positive results about pharmaceuticals, The clinical trials in the study showed no difference in quality between herbal remedy and pharmaceutical trials, but CAM was still reported on more skeptically”.

Healthcare receives significant media attention, and CAM is no exception. Given the continued public interest in the multi-billion dollar business of CAM, this media attention is hardly surprising. The researchers conclude, “Given this well established and expanding market, it is time for journalists and editors to experiment with improving content without necessarily sacrificing narrative themes such as human interest stories. A change for the better is unlikely to result in a reduced public appetite for health news - an appetite which is increasingly sophisticated and desirous of high quality information”.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by BMC Medicine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Tania Bubela, Heather Boon and Timothy Caulfield. Herbal Remedy Clinical Trials in the Media: a Comparison with the Coverage of Conventional Pharmaceuticals. BMC Medicine, 2008, 6:35 DOI: 10.1186/1741-7015-6-35

Cite This Page:

BMC Medicine. "Misleading Media Coverage Of Medicine." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 November 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081126075613.htm>.
BMC Medicine. (2008, November 26). Misleading Media Coverage Of Medicine. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081126075613.htm
BMC Medicine. "Misleading Media Coverage Of Medicine." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081126075613.htm (accessed October 2, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Pregnancy Spacing Could Have Big Impact On Autism Risks

Pregnancy Spacing Could Have Big Impact On Autism Risks

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) — A new study says children born less than one year and more than five years after a sibling can have an increased risk for autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robotic Hair Restoration

Robotic Hair Restoration

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) — A new robotic procedure is changing the way we transplant hair. The ARTAS robot leaves no linear scarring and provides more natural results. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Insertable Cardiac Monitor

Insertable Cardiac Monitor

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) — A heart monitor the size of a paperclip that can save your life. The “Reveal Linq” allows a doctor to monitor patients with A-Fib on a continuous basis for up to 3 years! Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Attacking Superbugs

Attacking Superbugs

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) — Two weapons hospitals can use to attack superbugs. Scientists in Ireland created a new gel resistant to superbugs, and a robot that can disinfect a room in minutes. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins