CNS Communiqué

NURSES OVERLOOKED IN THE NEWS MEDIA

A replication study of the 1997 Woodhull Study on Nursing and the Media finds journalists routinely overlook nurses as sources in health news stories.  The original study analyzed 20,000 articles published in 16 U.S. newspapers, magazines and health trade publications in September 1997.  Researchers found that less than 1% of the articles in U.S. News & World Report, Time, Newsweek and Business Week referenced a nurse.  Nurses were referenced in less than 4% of the 2,101 newspaper health articles from seven newspapers across the country.

The replication research, published in the Journal of Nursing Scholarship and in the American Journal of Nursing, found nurses continue to be grossly underrepresented as sources in health news stories.  In the recent study, researchers found that nurses were identified as sources in 2% of health news coverage and only mentioned in 13% health news coverage overall.

The interviews revealed biases among journalists, editors, public relations staff and health care organizations.  Participants said preconceptions exist in health news about positions of authority, placing physicians at the top of source lists.