Mass media health information available to young adults in the United Kingdom: (1) Daily newspapers and magazines

Nicola J. Gray, Judith A. Cantrill, Peter R. Noyce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Consumers are increasingly challenging community pharmacists with mass media advertisements and news items. This has the potential to produce conflict as professional judgment, editorial priorities and advertising practices are inevitably not aligned. To explore the characteristics and distribution of health information in publications read by young adults (15- to 24-year-olds) in the United Kingdom, four newspapers and 29 magazines were surveyed over an eight-week period in January/February 1997. Nine hundred health items were found in 84 newspaper issues and 80 magazine issues. Newspapers commonly included health information in the form of advertisements and news items; magazines included features and readers' letters. Descriptions of disease treatment and states were the most common subjects. Although conventional therapies were featured more often than alternative options, there was a considerable number of advertisements and features for alternative therapies, especially in newspapers. Most therapeutic areas were included, but the central nervous system was the most prevalent. One hundred and ninety-six newspaper items (40.2 per cent), and 193 magazine items (46.8 per cent) referred to a specific drug or medicine. The drug properties most often described were indication and formulation. Side effects were more likely to be included in magazine items. There was a notable lack of references to professional information sources. Community pharmacists must be aware of the characteristics of this information to help consumers to make better informed self care decisions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)180-187
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Pharmacy Practice
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 1998
Externally publishedYes


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