Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 19–24

Newspaper reporting of the medical literature

  • Risa B. Burns
  • Mark A. Moskowitz
  • Michael A. Osband
  • Lewis E. Kazis
Original Articles

DOI: 10.1007/BF02599571

Cite this article as:
Burns, R.B., Moskowitz, M.A., Osband, M.A. et al. J Gen Intern Med (1995) 10: 19. doi:10.1007/BF02599571

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: To examine whether the media are providing information to the public about important medical advances in a timely manner and whether the degree of importance is associated with other aspects of newspaper reporting (presence, extent, and prominence).

DESIGN: The authors explored the amount, extent, prominence, and timeliness of newspaper coverage received byNew England Journal of Medicine andJAMA articles published in 1988, by searching ten leading U.S. newspapers. The journal articles were independently rated based on the public’s need to know the medical information contained in the article. The intraclass reliability coefficient for this need-to-know importance score was 0.77.

MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Overall, 35% of the journal articles received newspaper coverage (276/786). The articles were frequently covered by more than one newspaper [extensive coverage (161/276, 58%)] and often appeared on the front page [prominent coverage (42/276, 15%)]. Articles considered most important to the public (92/786, 12%) received more extensive and prominent coverage than did less important articles (p<0.01). More than three fourths of the newspaper stories appeared within two days of the journal article’s issue date. Stories about the most important articles appeared sooner than did those about the less important articles (p<0.0001).

CONCLUSIONS: Articles reported in two prominent medical journals are often viewed as being important to the public, and these articles are receiving newspaper coverage that is extensive, prominent, and timely. This is particularly true for those articles considered most important to the public.

Key words

Information dissemination communications media mass media public participation newspaper reporting journal articles 

Copyright information

© Hanley & Befus, Inc. 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Risa B. Burns
    • 1
  • Mark A. Moskowitz
    • 1
  • Michael A. Osband
    • 2
  • Lewis E. Kazis
    • 3
  1. 1.the Section of General Internal Medicine, Evans Department of MedicineBoston University School of MedicineBoston
  2. 2.the Division of Hematology/Oncology, Department of Pediatrics, Boston City HospitalBoston University School of MedicineBoston
  3. 3.the School of Public HealthBoston University School of MedicineBoston