Jane Wells, MBChB, MFPHM, MSc; Phillip Marshall, BSc; Barbara Crawley, MSc; Kay Dickersin, MA, PhD
Acknowledgments: The authors thank Paul van Nevel and Melissa Taylor at the National Cancer Institute and Lisa Bero and Gail Kennedy at the University of California, San Francisco, for information and advice; Helen Kelm for performing data entry; and our reviewers for their helpful comments.
Grant Support: By the Public Health training program, Oxford Regional Health Authority, United Kingdom (Dr. Wells), and the University of Maryland at Baltimore School of Medicine summer student program (Mr. Marshall).
Requests for Single Reprints: Jane Wells, MBChB, MFPHM, MSc, Health Services Research Unit, Department of Public Health and Primary Care, University of Oxford, Institute of Health Sciences, Old Road, Oxford OX3 7LF, United Kingdom; e-mail, email@example.com.
Current Author Addresses: Dr. Wells: Health Services Research Unit, Department of Public Health and Primary Care, University of Oxford, Institute of Health Sciences, Old Road, Oxford OX3 7LF, United Kingdom.
Mr. Marshall: Hanover Family Practice, 9376 Atlee Station Road, Mechanicsville, VA.
Ms. Crawley: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Health Care Financing Administration, 7500 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21244.
Dr. Dickersin: Department of Community Health, Brown University School of Medicine, 169 Angell Street, Providence, RI 02912.
Author Contributions: Conception and design: J. Wells, K. Dickersin.
Analysis and interpretation of the data: J. Wells, K. Dickersin.
Drafting of the article: J. Wells.
Critical revision of the article for important intellectual content: J. Wells, P. Marshall, K. Dickersin.
Final approval of the article: J. Wells, P. Marshall, K. Dickersin.
Provision of study materials or patients: J. Wells.
Statistical expertise: K. Dickersin.
Obtaining of funding: J. Wells.
Administrative, technical, or logistic support: B. Crawley, K. Dickersin.
Collection and assembly of data: J. Wells, P. Marshall.
Wells J., Marshall P., Crawley B., Dickersin K.; Newspaper Reporting of Screening Mammography. Ann Intern Med. 2001;135:1029-1037. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-135-12-200112180-00006
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 2001;135(12):1029-1037.
Newspapers are important sources of information about scientific and medical topics, not only for the general public but also for the scientific and medical communities and for policymakers (1-4). They can provide a forum for opinion and debate, give advice and make recommendations, set the public agenda by identifying newsworthy topics, and affect public policy and medical and scientific research (4-8).
Journalists' criteria for judging the quality of reporting may differ from those of a scientist or clinician (9-11), and newspapers generally value stories that are seen as exclusive, exciting, or controversial (3, 12). Journalists often aim for “balance” by presenting both sides of an issue. They may draw on a range of sources for scientific or medical reports (13, 14) but are not necessarily in a position to judge their sources' relative merits, particularly since few journalists have specialist scientific or medical knowledge (5). In addition, while most scientific journals require disclosure of conflicts of interest, such conflicts are not always identified in newspaper articles (15). Studies of the accuracy and completeness of newspaper reporting of scientific issues have found that most newspaper articles contain errors of varying seriousness or omit important information and include little scientific explanation or critique of the quality or relevance of scientific evidence (16-22).
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Hematology/Oncology, Breast Cancer, Cancer Screening/Prevention, Prevention/Screening.
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