Abstract 3094: Local Television News Reporting of Coronary Heart Disease Medical Research in the United States
Introduction: Local television news, the number one source of information for most Americans, commonly reports on health and is a major means for disseminating medical research findings. However, little is known about how coronary heart disease (CHD) research is reported by local television news.
Objectives: This study examined local television news reporting of CHD stories from medical research.
Hypothesis: We assessed the hypothesis that local television news fails to report key aspects of medical research that would be useful to the public.
Methods: Content of health stories reported on 122 local television stations within the top 50 US media markets during October 2002 was systematically analyzed. Full-length broadcasts were viewed to identify all health stories reported as well as those stories specifically about CHD. Two trained media researchers independently coded each CHD story and compared it to the corresponding medical abstract or published article for coverage of five distinct summary points:
reporting of main study findings
source of funding
recommendations based on study findings; and
citation of publication.
Results: CHD stories were the third most common health topic behind breast cancer and West Nile virus. Of the CHD stories, 13 reported intense exercise can reduce CHD, 12 reported the benefit of aspirin following CABG, 7 reported a genetic link to CHF and 4 reported chocolate is good for your heart. Forty-three (74%) of all CHD stories came from NEJM, JAMA, Circulation and BMJ.
Conclusions: CHD stories were commonly reported on local television news and mainly came from four prominent medical journals. Most stories reported the study’s main findings. However, few provided key points that provide context, which may be useful to a public. Methods to improve the dissemination of CHD research from medical journals to the television news media should be sought in order to maximize the utility of local television news.