Medical journalism

Medical journalism is news reporting (as opposed to peer-review publication) of medical news and features. Medical journalism is diverse, and reflects its audience. The main division is into (1) medical journalism for the general public, which includes medical coverage in general news publications and in specialty medical publications, and (2) medical journalism for doctors and other professionals, which often appears in peer-reviewed journals. The accuracy of medical journalism varies widely. Reviews of mass media publications have graded most stories unsatisfactory, although there were examples of excellence. Other reviews have found that most errors in mass media publications were the result of repeating errors in the original journal articles or their press releases. Some web sites, such as and Columbia Journalism Review, review medical journalism.

Medical journalism can come from a variety of sources including:

Most inaccuracies and speculations in news coverage can be attributed to several barriers between the scientific community and the general public that include lack of knowledge by reporters, lack of time to prepare a proper report, and lack of space in the publication. Most news articles fail to discuss important issues such as evidence quality, costs, and risks versus benefits. However, medical journalism is not only what is being commercialized and covered by news and mass media. There is also another extensive, more academic branch of medical journalism which is based on evidence. Evidence-based research is more accurate and thus it is a much more reliable source than medical news disseminated by tabloids. Medical journalism in this regard is a professional field and is often disregarded. There are also some medical journalism institutions that provide assistance to medical researchers to enable them to perform more reliable studies. A 2009 study found small improvements in some areas of medical reporting in Australia, but the overall quality remained poor, particularly in commercial human-interest television programs.

More recently, the use of medical writers has become more popular as a way to produce medical literature that is clear, concise, and easier to read by the lay person.

The ICMJE, International Committee of Medical Journal Editors, is a committee that specifically deals with this kind of issue. This organization is committed to keeping medical reporting as true as possible by setting a standard known as URM, or the Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts. These requirements do not only specify technical points such as bibliographical references and copyrights but also regarding ethical issues that may arise. For example, a submitter must disclose any personal or professional relationships that might even slightly have a bearing on the submitted work.

To this end, it is not uncommon for researchers to hold a press conference or interviews before publishing significant research to prevent any misconstruing of any data or methods.

This page was last edited on 9 March 2018, at 12:41 (UTC).
Reference: under CC BY-SA license.

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