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To address this issue, we developed the Quality Index for health-related Media Reports (QIMR; Additional file 1).
The objective of this paper is to describe the development and preliminary validation of the QIMR for evaluating the quality of health research reports published in the Canadian media. First, the QIMR was developed through literature searches and consultation with key experts.
Misinformed readers may have heightened concerns or expectations about medical interventions which may lengthen, multiply, or complicate medical consultations and generate inappropriate health behaviors and requests for medical treatment, thereby increasing healthcare spending.
Although the importance of reliable health journalism is well recognized, no empirical investigation has yet been undertaken to evaluate the quality of health research reporting in the Canadian media.
The reliability and validity of the QIMR were subsequently tested with a sample of media reports.
The development and testing process of the QIMR is presented in Fig. This study was exempt from ethics review by the Hamilton Integrated Research Ethics Board.
Items from the ‘validity’ domain were negatively skewed, suggesting possible floor effect.
MEDLINE and EMBASE were searched through the Ovid interface using key terms related to health education, patient education, and journalism. The search yielded Oxman et al.’s (1993) Index of scientific quality (ISQ) for health-related news reports .For example, when the ISQ was tested with a sample of media reports, item 1, which asks whether it is clear to whom the information presented in the media report applies, was found to be irrelevant in most cases.Discussion with key informants, such as journalists and researchers, also revealed item 5, which queries whether the media report communicated a clear and well-founded assessment of the precision of estimates, to be irrelevant.Tools to monitor the quality of health research reporting in the media are needed to identify areas of weakness in health research reporting and to subsequently work towards the efficient use of the lay media as a public health tool through which the public’s health behaviors can be improved.We developed the Quality Index for health-related Media Reports (QIMR) as a tool to monitor the quality of health research reports in the lay media.
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Seeking health information in the media has become increasingly common, as evidenced by survey data indicating that nearly a quarter of Canadians used the internet to obtain health information in the year 2000 , a rate which has most likely grown over the past decade and a half.