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Open Access Highly Accessed Correspondence

Quality of health news disseminated in the print media in developing countries: a case study in Iran

Mahnaz Ashoorkhani1, Jaleh Gholami2, Katayoun Maleki1, Sima Nedjat1, Jalaledin Mortazavi1 and Reza Majdzadeh2*

Author Affiliations

1 Knowledge Utilization Research Centre (KURC), Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

2 Knowledge Utilization Research Centre (KURC), School of Public Health, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

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BMC Public Health 2012, 12:627  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-627

Published: 9 August 2012

Abstract

Background

Mass media play an important role in keeping people up-to-date with the latest health news. This study aims at investigating the quality of health news disseminated in the print media, its course of production and factors affecting its quality.

Methods

In the quantitative section of the study, 410 health-related news items, published during a six-month span in the Iranian public press, underwent content analysis. In the qualitative section, focus group discussions were held with journalists, editors-in-chief and news gatekeepers.

Results

The quantitative phase showed that 18% of the news articles were not fit for dissemination in public. The qualitative phase illustrated that multiple factors at various levels affect the quality of news, namely poor knowledge, inadequate motivations and context-related barriers.

Conclusions

The quality of health news reporting is not desirable. Educational interventions need to be carried out to raise awareness among researchers and journalists. Also, certain steps should be taken to increase motivations and strengthen infrastructures, including designing guidelines and monitoring news.