Abstract 16209: The Accuracy of Online Reporting by Major News Media Outlets on a Landmark Cardiovascular Prevention Trial
Introduction: Online media are becoming the primary source of health information for patients. There is little data on the accuracy of online reporting on major cardiovascular prevention trials. We evaluated the accuracy of news reporting on the PREDIMED cardiovascular prevention trial which assessed the efficacy of a Mediterranean diet on cardiovascular outcomes and achieved the highest media impact of all cardiovascular studies published in 2013.
Methods: We identified eight major news sources (AP, CNN, Daily Mail, Forbes, NBC News, New York Times, Reuters, Wall Street Journal) which reported on the trial and created a score sheet summarizing major findings, strengths and limitations as described in the published study. Each news article was analyzed by five independent scorers blinded to the news sources. Consensus scores among the review panel were used to estimate the accuracy of news reporting.
Results: None of the news sources mentioned all key points of the trial. Six news sources described fewer than four key points. Importantly, while all news sources mentioned the 30% risk reduction in patients on a Mediterranean diet, only three news articles explained that this was driven primarily by a lower incidence of stroke but that there was no significant reduction in the risk of myocardial infarction. Interestingly, news sources which elaborated on the stroke risk were more likely to mention sources of funding or potential conflicts of interest (p=0.04, Chi-square test).
Conclusions: Online news articles accurately reported key positive findings of a landmark cardiovascular prevention trial but failed to mention major limitations of the trial even though they were explicitly listed by the study authors. The 'positivity bias’ in health journalism identified in our study may exaggerate the clinical significance of trials in the eyes of patients, policy makers and health care professionals who rely on news sources to learn about cardiovascular prevention studies.
- Cardiovascular disease prevention
- Dietary guidance
- Patient education/teaching psychosocial aspects
Author Disclosures: V.S. Rangarajan: None. J.H. Lee: None. N. Sawlani: None. V. Arora: None. S. McGraw: None. A.A. Sovari: None. S. Yallapragada: None. J. Rehman: None.
- © 2014 by American Heart Association, Inc.