Background Given the need for relevant, reliable and trustworthy health information among lay people as well as medical professionals and health policymakers, it is of utmost importance that the medical content in the mass media is of high quality. To meet the demands by the public, medical journalists are in need of better education, but the intense flood of medical information, press releases, invitations, reports, presentations etc, is a growing area of concern. The gatekeeper role is soon no longer possible to maintain, due to lack of time in the news rooms, and there are so many more vested interests today, that struggles to get publicity than just some years ago. Objective Our objective is to shed light on the field of mass media lobbying in the landscape of medical journalism. The general public, health professionals, and even editors are often not aware of the pressures that are put on medical journalists from "big pharma", universities, authorities, patient groups, PR-companies, researchers and foundations etc.

Method The proposed workshop is to be held in interaction with the attendees by group discussions around café tables.
The programme starts with an introduction addressing the lobby problems encountered by medical reporters. Representatives from the university and PR-companies will participate. The discussion groups will play the role of different stakeholders trying to get their message into the media (e.g. patients, physicians, editors, industry). They will get different questions which should be processed and presented with conclusions at the end.

Results A rapporteur will cover the event, which also is documented by video and offered as educational material to journalism schools.

Conclusions By this interactive model, we hope to win a greater understanding of the importance of the "middle man" (journalist) in the communication process, and seek solutions that will contribute to medical information of greatest value to the public.

Ref: Moynihan R, Cassels A. Selling sickness. Nation Books 2005, ISBN-I0: I-56025-856-X Larsson A et al. Medical messages in the media - barriers and solutions to improving medical journalism. Health Expect 2003 Dec; 6(4): 323-31

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Medical messages in the media - reliable information or science for sale?

Anna Larsson   Swedish National Radio/Karolinska Institutet

Carl-Johan Sundberg   Inst of physiology &pharmacology

Ingela Björck   University of Lund

Marianne Hjertstrand   Springtime communication and PR company

Background Given the need for relevant, reliable and trustworthy health information among lay people as well as medical professionals and health policymakers, it is of utmost importance that the medical content in the mass media is of high quality. To meet the demands by the public, medical journalists are in need of better education, but the intense flood of medical information, press releases, invitations, reports, presentations etc, is a growing area of concern. The gatekeeper role is soon no longer possible to maintain, due to lack of time in the news rooms, and there are so many more vested interests today, that struggles to get publicity than just some years ago. Objective Our objective is to shed light on the field of mass media lobbying in the landscape of medical journalism. The general public, health professionals, and even editors are often not aware of the pressures that are put on medical journalists from "big pharma", universities, authorities, patient groups, PR-companies, researchers and foundations etc.

Method The proposed workshop is to be held in interaction with the attendees by group discussions around café tables.
The programme starts with an introduction addressing the lobby problems encountered by medical reporters. Representatives from the university and PR-companies will participate. The discussion groups will play the role of different stakeholders trying to get their message into the media (e.g. patients, physicians, editors, industry). They will get different questions which should be processed and presented with conclusions at the end.

Results A rapporteur will cover the event, which also is documented by video and offered as educational material to journalism schools.

Conclusions By this interactive model, we hope to win a greater understanding of the importance of the "middle man" (journalist) in the communication process, and seek solutions that will contribute to medical information of greatest value to the public.

Ref: Moynihan R, Cassels A. Selling sickness. Nation Books 2005, ISBN-I0: I-56025-856-X Larsson A et al. Medical messages in the media - barriers and solutions to improving medical journalism. Health Expect 2003 Dec; 6(4): 323-31

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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