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.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health(social science)
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Library and Information Sciences