Use of the terms "schizophrenia" and "schizophrenic" in the South Korean news media: a content analysis of newspapers and news programs in the last 10 years

Psychiatry Investig. 2012 Mar;9(1):17-24. doi: 10.4306/pi.2012.9.1.17. Epub 2012 Jan 25.


Objective: In this study, we explored the meaning attributed to the words "jungshinbunyeolbyung" (schizophrenia) and "jungshinbunyeol" (schizophrenic) in South Korean newspapers and news programs in the last 10 years.

Methods: We screened the websites of three national newspapers and the broadcasts of three nationwide television news programs from January 1, 2001, to December 31, 2010. We classified a total of 490 articles and 257 news segments by category and quantitatively and qualitatively analyzed them. The articles and news segments were assigned to one of the following categories based on their use of the term "schizophrenia": 1) negative, 2) neutral or positive, 3) incidental, and 4) metaphorical.

Results: The negative viewpoint accounted for 349 incidences (46.7%), while the neutral and positive viewpoints included 225 incidences (30.1%). Incidental uses accounted for 95 incidences (12.7%), and metaphorical uses accounted for 78 incidences (10.4%). The majority of the negative uses focused on violence or dangers posed by patients (137 mentions, 37.8%), while the metaphorical uses mainly focused on the idea of splitting (51 mentions, or 65%).

Conclusion: This study showed that the South Korean news media do not provide balanced information about schizophrenia to the public. This study also showed that no significant move has been made toward a more positive use of the term since a previous study was conducted on the subject. Although the term schizophrenia has given way to "attunement disorder," it will be difficult to establish the new term as the standard if the South Korean media continue to use the term "schizophrenic symptom." Even though the term has been changed, guidelines are necessary to encourage the mass media to provide balanced articles and reduce prejudice.

Keywords: Attunement disorder; Guideline; Media; Schizophrenia; Stigma.