There's room for improvement by both TV stations and the experts who appear in medical and health-related news stories, according to a study by researchers from the University of Michigan and the University of Wisconsin Madison.
During a one-month period, health and medical stories comprised 11% of the news portion of late-evening newscasts.
There were 1,799 medical and health stories carried on 2 ,795 news broadcasts that were aired on 122 stations in the top 50 media markets in the United States.
The average medical or health story was 33 seconds long. Most of the stories did not provide specifics about the source of the information.
The study also found that when reporting on specific diseases, the experts often failed to give the viewers recommendations or information about the prevalence of the disease, which could help them put the story into perspective.
In addition, the researchers note that there were errors in the stories that could lead to serious consequences.
Example: Several stations aired a story on lemon juice's effect on sperm. Near$ all of the stories failed to mention that this was a laboratory study that did not involve humans. One story misinterpreted the research altogether and reported that lemon juice may be a substitute for costly HIV medications.
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