Quality Measures Of Medical University Press Releases And Medical Research

The media are an important source of information about developments in science for the general public; news stories on medical research are affected by the quality of university press releases, but both sources often omit important information about the actual scientific study describing.

News media have the power not only to influence people’s beliefs and attitudes around medical topics; but also to affect healthcare seeking behaviour; The study comprising 507 press releases from 21 universities in Germany; the Netherlands, Sweden, the U.S. and the UK. Approximately one third of the press releases generated media interest, resulting in 496 news stories.

Medical Research

The press releases and news were analysed according to the extent to which they addressed 18 different scientific measures describing the underlying scientific studies and seven so called interest raising measures, e.g. words such as “new,” “groundbreaking” and “first.”

The study showing that higher quality press releases were correlating with higher quality news stories; and if measures were including in the former; they were more likely to be including in the latter as well.According to Winters; responsibility for the content of a press release lies with both the researchers and the universities’ communicators; and should be agreeing  between them.

Acknowledges

Study showing that the researcher is responsible for ensuring that the content of the press release is a fair representation of his or her scientific study; and responsibility for the news that finally reaches the public domain is; however, borne by the media.Winters acknowledges that a press release can never fully reproduce a scientific paper and that some details have to be omitted.

Study advice is to use a list of criteria; such as the one in her study, to ensure that the most important elements are including; study also argues that the limitations of a scientific study ought to be mentioned in its press release; This large multi-national study shows that there was a correlation between the quality of medical university press releases and related news stories. Also, measures were more likely to be reporting in NSs if reporting in PRs and important measures such as potential conflicts of interest; funding and study limitations were omitting to a very large extent.