The wonderful people behind the NHS Behind the headlines section have released their first in-depth report on how media coverage impacts public perception of a particular medical issue – in this case, alcohol. The report – What’s Your Poison: A sober analysis of alcohol and health in the media – examines the media’s relationship with research on alcohol, the science behind it, and what all this means for us when we consider raising a glass. In particular it discusses the media’s need to treat most research in absolute isolation from each other; something which leads to the constant contradictions surrounding alcohol reporting.
For example, one day drinking red wine is lethal, the next day it is the secret to long life or a potential cure for cancer and so on. Furthermore, few of theses stories actually point out the well-known health problems with alcohol (i.e. liver problems etc) and instead spend their time questioning whether various drinks are the cause of or cure for cancer which is kind of missing the point about the dangers that are well-established.
Anyway, it is an interesting report and one that has come about thanks to the NHS Behind the Headlines team realising just how poor the standard of medial reporting is in the UK.