EXPERT EVALUATION OF LAIC ARTICLES WITH MEDICAL CONTENTS INPRINTED MEDIA
AbstractBACKGROUND The printed media accessible to laic readers contain much information on medicalcontent. Among useful and scientifically based information one often finds statementsthat are misleading, biased or even harmful to one’s health. Our research is intended toassess the scientific correctness of laic articles containing medical information in printedmedia, as well as to examine what attitude laic readers express towards this source ofmedical information. METHODS During a period of one month, we deliberately collected copies of a majority of printedmedia published in the Republic of Slovenia and searched for articles with medicalcontents. The latter were subsequently evaluated by experts from various medical fields. RESULTS The research showed that 36 % of articles lacked clearly stated authorship. 82 % of articleslacked sources where the information had been drawn from. As for specific scientificcriteria (imperfect data, unproven statements, information harmful to health, advertising)an array of examples is displayed. The research shows that advertising within articles is ina statistically significant relation to a higher incidence of mistakes concerning thescientific appropriateness and of misleading or imperfect data which sometimes entailinformation detrimental to health. According to our expectations, the articles written bymedical experts, exhibited a statistically significant lower number of imperfect ormisleading data. However, some articles that featured excellent work and could, as such,serve as a positive example of presenting medical information, are also exposed. There is aprofound lack of laic articles with medical contents in printed media devoted to childrenand teenagers. CONCLUSIONS The research results are meant to draw the laic and expert publics’ attention to the state ofpresenting medical information in laic printed media. Therefore we suggest introducing alaw on publishing laic medical articles which should fulfil the exposed criteria: stating theauthorship, clearly stated professional qualifications of the author, correctly stated sources. Our aim is to improve the quality of medical information presented to laic readers andby doing so to protect potential patients and consumers
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