An assessment of the coverage of noncommunicable disease research reported in British and Irish newspapers, 2002-13

Grant Lewison, Elena Pallari, Atia Sultana, Carl Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: The reporting of medical research in the mass media is often the only way for the general public to learn about it, as most people do not read, nor have access to, scientific papers. Aims: We wished to map non-communicable disease (NCDs) research stories in two UK newspapers, the Daily Mail and The Guardian, and an Irish newspaper, the Irish Times, in 2002–13. Methodology: We identified relevant stories by means of the Factiva database, and obtained details of the cited research papers from the Web of Science. We compared coverage of research on five NCDs with the disease burden, and with the amount of research, in the two countries. We also analysed the sex distribution of the journalists, the researchers whose work was cited and any commentators mentioned in the stories. Results: There were 3921 stories in total (1990 in the Daily Mail, 1127 in the Irish Times, and 804 in The Guardian). Cancer and mental health disorders research attracted most attention. The other NCDs were cardiovascular disease & stroke, diabetes, and respiratory diseases. The stories tended to focus on epidemiological research, and means to reduce the risk of disease, rather than treatment. Both countries over-cited their own research, particularly Ireland. Conclusions: Coverage of the five NCDs tended to mirror the amounts and changes in the disease burden, both in time and between the two countries, notably for dementia and depression. Male researchers and commentators received more attention than females, and so reinforced existing gender stereotypes.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1757566
Number of pages13
JournalCogent Medicine
Volume7
Publication statusPublished - 5 May 2020

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