ABSTRACT: News on health and health care are increasingly common in the mass media, and cancer is one of the most prominent topic among these news due to its health impact.
All news published in major newspapers in Catalonia, Spain between April to December 1996 were analysed, together with items from science and health supplements general information and science journals. Types of cancer-related topics, sources of information, the importance of cancer in the news item and the theme of the piece were analysed.
During the period analysed, 974 news items were published which dealt with cancer. Of these, cancer was the principal topic in 53.5% of the items published in the national press, and 63.4% of the items published in the regional press. Cancer was the subject of an editorial comment on only four occasions. The source of information was mentioned in 64.8% of the items, and mean number of sources was 1.6. Political institutions were the most frequent source of information in newspapers, while science and health supplements and other magazines tended to cite scientific and health care institutions, as well as scientific journals. Basic research was the most common topic for news (30.3%) in science and health supplements while risk and environmental factors (29.6%) were the most common topics in magazines; environmental and technological risk factors (18,6%) and conflicts with health administrative bodies (16%) were the most frequent topics in the newspapers.
News about risk factors and their prevention as well as technological and environmental factors related to cancer were among the most important topics published in the general press and magazines, together with conflicts with administrative bodies. Informations related to new therapies were a less frequent topic. Scientific journals have an important role as an information source for mass media together with political and scientific institutions.
Gaceta Sanitaria 14(2):139-45. · 1.33 Impact Factor