Methods: this review aimed to find out how stroke thrombolysis was reported in UK national and London local newspapers and how treatment risks and benefits were communicated. Newspapers published between 1 January 2007 and 31 March 2010 were searched for articles on thrombolysis. Fifty-six articles were included and dispositive analysis, a qualitative analysis method, was used to identify themes.
Results: four main themes were identified: inaccurate description of thrombolysis, stroke clinicians' involvement, presentation of risks and benefits and patient stories. Inaccuracies included the presentation of thrombolysis as a treatment for transient ischaemic attack. Clinicians were quoted to suggest that thrombolysis produced complete recovery but were not reported to discuss risks or broader stroke management. The articles reported little or no risks of treatment. Patients' stories were used to reinforce that thrombolysis produces full recovery.
Conclusions: this review found that newspaper media provides the public with inaccurate perspectives on thrombolysis. Clinicians may wish to check press articles prior to publishing and to consider the impact of reporting thrombolysis as a treatment which produces complete recovery.