Stigmatization of Repetitive Hand Use in Newspaper Reports of Hand Illness
- 40 Downloads
Failure to provide a balanced evidence-based consideration of the role of activity in illness can stigmatize individuals and their activities. We assessed the prevalence of language that stigmatized repetitive hand use and those that use their hand repetitively in newspaper coverage of common hand illnesses. The LexisNexis Academic database was used to search five major US newspapers for articles containing keywords about common hand illnesses during a 3-year period. Article language was assessed for stigmatization of activities involving repetitive hand use as well as for stigmatization of patients who use their hand repetitively. One hundred and twenty-four articles on hand illnesses were identified. Of these, 65.3% of articles stigmatized activities involving repetitive hand use, including 96.6% of articles discussing overuse injury of the hand, 90% of articles discussing tendonitis or tenosynovitis, and 51.8% of articles discussing carpal tunnel syndrome. Patient stigmatization was documented in 30.6% of the newspaper articles. Stigmatizing statements were most commonly made by journalists (94.8%), followed by patients (3.1%), and physicians (2.1%). Language that stigmatizes repetitive hand use and patients who use their hand repetitively is prevalent among US newspaper articles. Both health professionals and journalists reporting health-related news should be more sensitive to the use of stigmatizing language and provide a more balanced, measured, and evidenced-based account of hand illnesses.
KeywordsHealth information Repetitive hand use Hand illness
Disclosure: Supported by unrestricted research gifts from AO Foundation, Small Bone Innovations, Wright Medical, Smith and Nephew, Biomet.
- 1.1999 Porter Novelli HealthStyles Survey: soap opera viewers and health information. APHA executive summary. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Google Scholar
- 3.Gilovich T. How we know what isn’t so: the fallibility of human reason in everyday life. New York: The Free Press; 1991.Google Scholar
- 4.Goffman E. Stigma: Notes on the management of spoiled identity. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster Inc; 1963.Google Scholar
- 9.Lucire Y. Constructing RSI: belief and desire. Sydney: University of New South Wales Ltd.; 2003.Google Scholar
- 10.McChesney RW. The problem of the media. New York: Monthly Review Press; 2004.Google Scholar
- 13.Oxford University Press. Oxford English dictionary. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press; 2002.Google Scholar
- 15.Rhoad RC, Stern PJ. Writer’s cramp—a focal dystonia: etiology, diagnosis, and treatment. J Hand Surg [Am] 1993;18(3):541–4.Google Scholar
- 19.Szabo RM. Carpal tunnel syndrome as a repetitive motion disorder. Clin Orthop Relat Res 1998;(351):78–89.Google Scholar
- 20.Szabo RM. Determining causation of work-related upper extremity disorders. Clin Occup Environ Med 2006;5(2):225–34, v.Google Scholar