Advertisement

Stem Cell Reviews and Reports

, Volume 11, Issue 5, pp 667–675 | Cite as

Gordie Howe’s Stem Cell ‘Miracle’: A Qualitative Analysis of News Coverage and Readers’ Comments in Newspapers and Sports Websites

Article

Abstract

Stem cells continue to garner attention by the news media and play a role in public and policy discussions of emerging technologies. As new media platforms develop, it is important to understand how different news media represents emerging stem cell technologies and the role these play in public discussions. We conducted a comparative analysis of newspaper and sports websites coverage of one recent high profile case: Gordie Howe’s stem cell treatment in Mexico. Using qualitative coding methods, we analyzed news articles and readers’ comments from Canadian and US newspapers and sports websites. Results indicate that the efficacy of stem cell treatments is often assumed in news coverage and readers’ comments indicate a public with a wide array of beliefs and perspectives on stem cells and their clinical efficacy. Media coverage that presents uncritical perspectives on unproven stem cell therapies may create patient expectations, may have an affect on policy discussions, and help to feed the marketing of unproven therapies. However, news coverage that provides more balanced or critical coverage of unproven stem cell treatments may also inspire more critical discussion, as reflected in readers’ comments.

Keywords

Unproven stem cell treatments Ethics Media coverage Health policy Readers' comments 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We gratefully acknowledge the generous funding support provided by the Canadian National Transplant Research Program and Canada’s Stem Cell Network for funding. We also thank Nathaniel Brenneis for research assistance and the team at the Health Law Institute at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.

Disclosures

The authors indicate no potential conflicts of interest.

Supplementary material

12015_2015_9606_MOESM1_ESM.docx (123 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 123 kb)

References

  1. 1.
    Caulfield, T., & McGuire, A. (2012). Athletes’ use of unproven stem cell therapies: adding to inappropriate media hype? Molecular Therapy, 20(9), 1656–1658.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Chang, W., Bank, T. C., & Scott, C. T. (2014). Fit to print? Media accounts of unproven medical treatments across time. AJOB Empirical Bioethics, 5(1), 33–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Ogbogu, U., Du, L., Rachul, C., Bélanger, L., & Caulfield, T. (2013). Chinese newspaper coverage of (unproven) stem cell therapies and their providers. Stem Cell Reviews and Reports, 9(2), 111–118.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Petersen, A., & Seear, K. (2011). Technologies of hope: techniques of the online advertising of stem cell treatments. New Genetics and Society, 30(4), 329–346.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Zarzeczny, A., Rachul, C., Nisbet, M., & Caulfield, T. (2010). Stem cell clinics in the news. Nature Biotechnology, 28, 1243–1246.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    The associated press. (2015). Stem cell ‘wild west’ takes root amid lack of US regulation. New York Times, May 18, http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2015/05/18/us/ap-us-stem-cell-clinics-abridged.html. Accessed 3 June 2015.
  7. 7.
    Seidman, K. (2015). Saviour or snake oil?; seeking out medical care in another country can offer relief to patients ensnared in our cash-strapped health system, but some call it a costly charade preying on false hope. Edmonton Journal, February 21.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Rachul, C., Percec, I., & Caulfield, T. (2015). The fountain of stem cell-based youth? Online portrayals of anti-aging stem cell technologies. Aesthetic Surgery Journal, DOI:  10.1093/asj/sju111.
  9. 9.
    Bubela, T., Li, M. D., Hafez, M., Bieber, M., & Atkins, H. (2012). Is belief larger than fact: expectations, optimism and reality for translational stem cell research. BMC Medicine, 10(1), 133.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    McIntosh, K. (2005). Exaggerated claims of cures threaten stem cell research. British Medical Journal, 330(7503), 1285.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Burman, R. J. (2014). The battle against stem cell hype : are we doing enough? Can the medical and scientific community do more to support regulatory boards in advocating ethical evidence-based medicine?: opinion. South African Journal of Bioethics and Law, 7, 74–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    MacGregor, C., Petersen, A., & Munsie, M. (2015). Stem cell tourism: Selling hope through unproven stem cell treatments - lessons from the X-Cell Center controversy. Euro Stem Cell, http://www.eurostemcell.org/commentanalysis/stem-cell-tourism-selling-hope-through-unproven-stem-cell-treatments-lessons-x-cell-. Accessed 3 June 2015.
  13. 13.
    van Lente, H., Spitters, C., & Peine, A. (2013). Comparing technological hype cycles: towards a theory. Technological Forecasting & Social Change, 80(8), 1615–1628.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Ryan, K. A., Sanders, A. N., Wang, D. D., & Levine, A. D. (2010). Tracking the rise of stem cell tourism. Regenerative Medicine, 5(1), 27–33.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Matthews, K. R. W., & Cuchiara, M. L. (2014). U.S. National football league athletes seeking unproven stem cell treatments. Stem Cells and Development, 23(S1), 60–64.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Kamenova, K., Reshef, A., & Caulfield, T. (2014). Angelina Jolie’s faulty gene: newspaper coverage of a celebrity’s preventive bilateral mastectomy in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Genetics in Medicine, 16, 522–528.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    MacKenzie, R., Chapman, S., Barratt, A., & Holding, S. (2007). ‘The news is [not] all good’: misrepresentations and inaccuracies in Australian news media reports on prostate cancer screening. Medical Journal of Australia, 187, 507–510.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Barabas, J., & Jerit, J. (2009). Estimating the causal effects of media coverage on policy-specific knowledge. American Journal of Political Science, 53, 73–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Gamson, W. A., & Modigliani, A. (1989). Media discourse and public opinion on nuclear power: a constructionist approach. American Journal of Sociology, 95, 1–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Scheufele, D. A. (1999). Framing as a theory of media effects. Journal of Communication, 49, 103–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Fox, S., & Duggan, M. (2013). Health Online 2013. Pew Research Center, January 15, http://www.pewinternet.org/2013/01/15/health-online-2013/. Accessed 3 June 2015.
  22. 22.
    Research Canada. (2007). Media Science Forum: Public opinion research results. http://files.voog.com/0000/0024/8635/files/RC-MediaScienceForum_ PORPoll_Dec2007_Report.pdf. Accessed 3 June 2015.
  23. 23.
    Whiteside, E., Nan, Y., & Hardin, M. (2012). The new “toy department”?: a case study on differences in sports coverage between traditional and new media. Journal of Sports Media, 7(1), 23–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Henrich, N., & Holmes, B. (2011). What the public was saying about the H1N1 vaccine: perceptions and issues discussed in on-line comments during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. PloS One, 6(4), e18479.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Kareklas, I., Muehling, D. D., & Weber, T. J. (2015). Re-examining health messages in the digital age: a fresh look at source credibility effects. Journal of Advertising, 44(2), 88–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    The associated press. (2014). Howe’s family report rapid improvement. New York Times, December 19, http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2014/12/19/sports/hockey/ap-hkn-howe-stroke.html?_r=0. Accessed 3 June 2015.
  27. 27.
    Illes, J., & Rossi, F. (2015). Opinion: No miracle therapy for stroke. Vancouver Sun, February 12, http://www.vancouversun.com/health/Opinion+miracle+therapy+stroke/10787468/story.html. Accessed 3 June 2015.
  28. 28.
    Price, J., & Rossant, J. (2015). Make Canada a magnet for stem cell trials. The Globe and Mail, February 23, http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/make-canada-a-magnet-for-stem-cell-trials/article23148618/. Accessed 3 June 2015.
  29. 29.
    EBiz MBA. (2015). Top 15 most popular sports websites: February 2015. February, http://www.ebizmba.com/articles/sports-websites. Accessed 11 April 2015.
  30. 30.
    Alliance for audited media. (2013). Top 25 U.S. newspapers for March 2013. March, http://auditedmedia.com/news/research-and-data/top-25-us-newspapers-for-march-2013.aspx. Accessed 11 April 2015.
  31. 31.
    Newspapers Canada. (2014). Daily newspaper circulation data. http://www.newspaperscanada.ca/daily-newspaper-circulation-data. Accessed 11 April 2015.
  32. 32.
    Saldaña, J. (2013). The coding manual for qualitative researchers (2nd ed., ). Los Angeles:Sage.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Gretz, A. (2014). Gordie Howe’s condition improving following stem cell treatment. CBS Sports, December 19, http://www.cbssports.com/nhl/eye-on-hockey/24903245/gordie-howes-condition-improving-following-stem-cell-treatment. Accessed 3 June 2015.
  34. 34.
    Pullman, D., Zarzeczny, A., & Picard, A. (2013). Media, politics and science policy: MS and evidence from the CCSVI trenches. BMC Medical Ethics, 14, 6.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Ubelacker, S. (2015). Gordie Howe’s ‘miracle’ in Mexico stirs experts' doubts about stem-cell therapy. The Globe and Mail, January 29, http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health/gordie-howes-miracle-in-mexico-stirs-experts-doubts-about-stem-cell-therapy/article22695984/. Accessed 3 June 2015.
  36. 36.
    Ubelacker, S. (2015). Medical experts question Gordie Howe stem cell ‘miracle’. The Toronto Star, January 29, http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2015/01/29/medical-experts-question-gordie-howe-stem-cell-miracle.html. Accessed 3 June 2015.
  37. 37.
    Picard, A. (2015). The stem-cell ‘miracle’ is anecdotal. The Globe and Mail, February 10, http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/the-stem-cell-miracle-is-anecdotal/article22880977/. Accessed 3 June 2015.
  38. 38.
    Rachul, C. (2011). “What have I got to lose?”: an analysis of stem cell therapy patients' blogs. Health Law Review, 20(1), 5–12.Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Sturgis, P., & Allum, N. (2004). Science in society: Re-evaluating the deficit model of public attitudes. Public Understanding of Science, 13, 55–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Sweet, M. (2007). Beware the stem cell hard sell. Sydney Alumni Magazine, Autumn, http://www.alumni.sydney.edu.au/s/965/images/editor_documents/alumni-magazine/07-winter/2007-winter-research.pdf. Accessed 3 June 2015.
  41. 41.
    McMahon, D.S. (2014). The global industry for unproven stem cell interventions and stem cell tourism. Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine, 11(1), 1–9.Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Kiatpongsan, S., & Sipp, D. (2008). Offshore stem cell treatments. Nature Reports Stem Cells, December 3, http://www.nature.com/stemcells/2008/0812/081203/full/stemcells.2008.151.html. Accessed 3 June 2015.
  43. 43.
    Caulfield, T., Rachul, C., & Zarzeczny, A. (2012). The evolution of policy issues in stem cell research: an international survey. Stem Cell Reviews and Reports, 8(4), 1037–1042.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Einsiedel, E. F., & Adamson, H. (2012). Stem cell tourism and future stem cell tourists: policy and ethical implications. Developing World Bioethics, 12(1), 35–44.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Cohen, C. B., & Cohen, P. J. (2010). Stem cell tourism in Russia and India: clinical research, innovative treatment, or unproven hype? Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal, 20(1), 27–49.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Neuman, D. (2015). Stem cell treatment gives local family new lease on life. St. Albert Gazette, February 28, http://www.stalbertgazette.com/article/20150228/SAG9604/302289988. Accessed 3 June 2015.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Linguistics and Language StudiesCarleton UniversityOttawaCanada
  2. 2.Faculty of Law and School of Public HealthUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  3. 3.Health Law InstituteUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

Personalised recommendations