Journal Mobile

SY Yip, D Namah, R Cook, C Isles
Journal Issue: 
Volume 48: Issue 3: 2018




Background Previous attempts to improve the quality of health journalism have not led to more responsible reporting of health news.

Method We reviewed the front pages of three daily tabloid and three daily broadsheet UK newspapers during a 1 month period in 2017 for medical headlines in which claims were made for diets, lifestyle behaviours or drug therapies that influence health.

Results Front page medical headlines were carried by the Daily Express (11), Daily Mail (two), Daily Mirror (one) and Daily Telegraph (one). Neither the Guardian nor the Independent carried medical stories on their front pages during the period of study. Eleven headlines suggested benefits and three suggested harm. One headline accurately reflected its source material, but in this instance the source material was of doubtful clinical relevance. The remaining 13 headlines either exaggerated benefit (seven), exaggerated harm (two) or made false claims (four).

Conclusions The cumulative effect of everyday misreporting of medical stories in UK newspapers may not only serve to confuse the public but also have serious consequences for public health.