What the public learns about screening and diagnostic tests through the media

Amanda J. Wilson, Jane Robertson, Benjamin D. Ewald, David Henry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
45 Downloads (Pure)


Screening of healthy groups in the population and diagnostic testing on suspicion of disease are fundamental components of health care delivery and disease prevention. As the general media is an important source of health information for consumers, accurate and balanced reporting is essential. Media reporting of diagnostic tests is skewed towards screening tests, particularly cancer screening and the quality of coverage appears poor (1-3). However, there are no data on how well the media cover stories about diagnostic tests used to confirm disease. The statistics used to quantify diagnostic test accuracy (sensitivity, specificity, and the predictive value of positive and negative tests) are difficult to understand, so conveying this information to the public is a challenging task for journalists (3-4). In this Perspective, we review stories written about diagnostic and screening tests in the Australian media and propose a checklist to aid journalists covering these topics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)324-326
Number of pages3
JournalMedical Journal of Australia
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


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