Portrayal of genetic risk for breast cancer in ethnic and non-ethnic newspapers.

https://arctichealth.org/en/permalink/ahliterature174669
Source
Women Health. 2004;40(4):93-111
Publication Type
Article
Date
2004
Author
L. Donelle
L. Hoffman-Goetz
J N Clarke
Author Affiliation
Department of Health Studies and Gerontology, University of Waterloo, ON, N2L 3G1, Canada.
Source
Women Health. 2004;40(4):93-111
Date
2004
Language
English
Publication Type
Article
Keywords
Bibliometrics
Breast Neoplasms - epidemiology - genetics
Canada
Educational Status
Female
Genes, BRCA1
Genes, BRCA2
Humans
Jews - genetics - statistics & numerical data
Journalism, Medical - standards
Mass Media - statistics & numerical data
Newspapers - statistics & numerical data
Risk Assessment - statistics & numerical data
Abstract
There has been enormous attention paid to the genetics of breast cancer in this era of genomic medicine. A great deal of the interest has been generated through discourse in the public mass media. However, genetic risk is a probabilistic concept and one that requires adequate numeracy skills. The purpose of this qualitative content analysis was to describe and evaluate the portrayal of genetic risk for breast cancer in mass print media. Mass print newspapers targeting high (Ashkenazi Jews) and low (general Canadian population) genetic risk audiences and published at least monthly, available in English and accessible through public archives at the National Library of Canada, were identified and hand searched for articles on breast cancer. Approximately 47% of breast cancer articles in 6 Jewish newspapers and published between 1996-2000 identified genetics in the title, first or last paragraph compared with 17% of 145 articles in 6 provincial newspapers published in 2000. The description of breast cancer risk was equally problematic in print media targeting high and low risk audiences. Statistics were presented in complex and contradictory ways, with, for example, the confounding of individual and population based risk estimates. Inconsistent messages about the value of genetic screening for breast cancer characterized articles in both ethnic and non-ethnic newspapers. Deciphering the information into a comprehensible form is likely challenging, particularly in light of widespread numeric-literacy limitations. The publication of discrepant research findings and the perplexing statistical information consequently brought into question the credibility of the scientific process and the recommendations of health care professionals.
PubMed ID
15911512 View in PubMed
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