Newspaper Coverage of the 1988 Aspirin and 2002 Hormone Therapy Randomized Clinical Trials

Swallen, Karen
Working paper no. 2003-06


Newspaper coverage is an important source of medical information for Americans, but coverage may be biased and inaccurate. I studied American newspaper coverage of two major randomized clinical trials—aspirin for prevention of cardiovascular disease (the Physicians’ Health Study) in 1988, and combination hormone therapy for prevention of cardiovascular disease (the Women’s Health Initiative) in 2002-3. Based on this case study, newspaper coverage of important randomized clinical trials is not much improved between 1988 and 2002. The use of statistics has not improved, and the vilification of physicians and the pharmaceutical industry has markedly increased.