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Evaluation of accuracy of health studies reported in mass media

Evaluation of accuracy of health studies reported in mass media

Journal of the American Pharmacists Association 45(6): 720-725

To evaluate communication of clinical research in the written media for completeness and accuracy. Observational assessment. United States. Not applicable. Content of media articles discussing randomized controlled trials was assessed by three reviewers on the basis of the Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials (CONSORT) criteria modified for the mass media. Reports from October 1 through December 31, 2002, published in the top two U.S. daily newspapers (USA Today and Wall Street Journal), weekly news magazines (Time and Newsweek), and daily news Web sources (CNN.com and MSNBC.com) and the corresponding published RCTs were analyzed. Total score and score in 10 specific content areas, leading to classification of coverage as poor, fair, or excellent. A total of 60 media reports discussing results of 25 RCTs appeared in these media during the study period. All reports were categorized as fair, and no content area was rated excellent. Several content areas received poor rankings in all and/or most media, including reporting of adverse effects, outcomes data, and statistical tests used. Media reports written by newswire services were rated more highly than were those prepared by nonnewswire services, but only 1 of 10 criteria had statistically significant differences. Mass media reports of RCTs are often incomplete. This type of reporting may misinform the lay public and may lead to questions about the applicability of the results to individual patients.

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Accession: 048994165

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 16381419

DOI: 10.1331/154434505774909670

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