Journals lag in educating public about medicine

A study of 100 research articles from major medical journals and a random sample of 343 of the newspaper stories they generated underlined the important role of media releases, the North American researchers said.

“Fundamental information, such as absolute risks, harms and limitations, was more likely to be reported in newspaper stories when this information appeared in a medical journal press release than when it was missing from the press release or if no press release was issued,” they wrote.

Among the findings, the researchers showed that 9% of news stories included information about absolute risk when these figures were not in the press release, but 53% did so when it was included in the press release.

In stories describing beneficial interventions, 24% mentioned harms when harms were not mentioned in the press release, but 68% included this information when it was in the press release.

The study, funded by the US