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ERIC Number: EJ877970
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 15
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0017-8969
Recommendations for Health Reporting: Proposal of a Working Paper
Vercellesi, Luisa; Minghetti, Paola; Di Croce, Marianna; Bazzi, Adriana; Pieroni, Bruno; Centemeri, Carlo; Bruno, Flavia
Health Education Journal, v69 n1 p48-62 2010
Objective: Media are a main source of medical information for the public, as well as for decision makers. This scenario demands a good selection of stories and correct medical reporting. Design: Our study aimed to analyze if journalistic guidelines or similar documents were already available and whether they provided satisfactory advice for appropriate communication in the field, and to detail recommendations which could become a reference working document. Methodology: Sources for this paper were obtained from PubMed and from websites (and related links) of organizations known to be working in the area of health reporting. Documents providing recommendations for the activity were analyzed and compared through a scheme including nine macro-categories relevant to the selection, verification and building of the story, considering scientific and journalistic issues. The scheme was derived from the most complete document. We then compiled a comprehensive list of recommendations merging the contents of the documents considered and our professional experience. Results: Nine existing guidelines and similar documents representing the worldwide situation were compared. All the documents examined provided interesting indications. Some of these indications shared the basic principles of mainstream journalism (reliability and independence of sources); others were more specific, such as the understanding of the scientific method and its jargon, the need to avoid extrapolations and to understand the difference between "in vitro" and animal studies and clinical trials, statistical parameters, and so on. Most of the topics specific for health communication are concepts which can be grasped only with an adequate scientific background and continuing education. The nature and level of the details provided by these documents vary considerably and in most cases can be fully understood only by experienced journalists with a relevant background. Discussion: Our proposal provides a useful tool listing nearly 70 recommendations ranging from the education of journalists, to all the aspects of selection, understanding and translating of medical and drug information deriving from scientific reports. It is intended for a journalist with a biomedical background, and therefore highlights critical issues without providing detailed descriptions. The proposal endeavors to answer to the main criticisms of medical journalism, particularly the use of sources, the verification of clinical value, the need to follow up on the story. Our work focuses on the prerequisite for a medical journalist to acquire the knowledge that enables him to assess the results of pharmacological and medical research in order to accurately and reliably convey his message to a lay reader. The strength of our working paper derives from the preliminary "benchmarking" of existing documents, as suggested in the literature, but even more so from the concerted effort of the authors, who represent the key stakeholders of the system (researchers, academic teachers, medical journalists and publishers). Conclusion: Our work identifies the major issues entailed in correct health reporting, and constitutes a step forward in overcoming existing barriers between scientists and journalists. The aim is to encourage the mediation of "public-centred" information, which limits the false hopes and expectations that may arise due to communication problems between the two worlds. (Contains 2 tables.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Italy