Including limitations in news coverage of cancer research: Effects of news hedging on fatalism, medical skepticism, patient trust, and backlash

Jakob D. Jensen, Nick Carcioppolo, Andy J. King, Jennifer K. Bernat, Lashara Davis, Robert Yale, Jessica Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

50 Scopus citations

Abstract

Past research has demonstrated that news coverage of cancer research, and scientific research generally, rarely contains discourse-based hedging, including caveats, limitations, and uncertainties. In a multiple message experiment (k=4 news stories, N=1082), the authors examined whether hedging shaped the perceptions of news consumers. The results revealed that participants were significantly less fatalistic about cancer (p=.039) and marginally less prone to nutritional backlash (p=.056) after exposure to hedged articles. Participants exposed to articles mentioning a second researcher (unaffiliated with the present study) exhibited greater trust in medical professions (p=.001). The findings provide additional support for the inclusion of discourse-based hedging in cancer news coverage and suggest that news consumers will use scientific uncertainty in illness representations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)486-503
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Health Communication
Volume16
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Communication
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Library and Information Sciences

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