Medical scientists and health news reporting: a case of miscommunication

Ann Intern Med. 1997 Jun 15;126(12):976-82. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-126-12-199706150-00008.


The public is poorly served by the coverage of medical science in the general press. Scientists and physicians blame the press, claiming that journalists are careless in their reporting, subject to competitive pressures, and ignorant of the scientific process. Journalists accuse the medical community of limiting access to information and erecting barriers to the public dissemination of medical research. In many areas of health news reporting, the underlying problem is an interactive dynamic that involves scientists and journalists. Both parties share the responsibility for accurate communication to the public. This report suggests ways to improve health news reporting, focusing on four problem areas: sensationalism, biases and conflicts of interest, lack of follow-up, and stories that are not covered.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bias
  • Communication*
  • Conflict of Interest
  • Humans
  • Journalism, Medical* / standards
  • Mass Media*
  • Medicine*