Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Mainstream media slants cancer articles toward unrealistically positive outcomes

Mainstream media coverage of cancer treatments disproportionately covers positive outcomes and aggressive treatments while underreporting on palliative care and death, according to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

"Very few news reports about cancer discuss death and dying, and even those that do generally do not mention palliative and hospice care," the researchers wrote.

Palliative care is medical care designed to reduce suffering and improve quality of life but not to cure a disease. It is a major component of care for terminal or hard-to-cure cancers.

The researchers reviewed 436 articles that had appeared in the magazines Newsweek, Parade, People, Redbook and Time, as well as eight daily newspapers in Chicago, New York and Philadelphia. They found that while 32.1 percent of the articles focused on successful treatment of at least one patient, only 7.6 percent covered patients who died or were expected to. Only 2.2 percent addressed both positive and negative outcomes. Read more...

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