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Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Saf. 2005 May;14(5):297-306.

The importance of news media in pharmaceutical risk communication: proceedings of a workshop.

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University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7411, USA.


In response to mass media's role in the national and global system of pharmaceutical risk communication, the Centers for Education and Research on Therapeutics (CERTs) convened a 'think tank' session on the 'Importance of Media in Pharmaceutical Risk Communication'. Prominent journalists and experts from the pharmaceutical industry, academia, medical practice and government were invited to consider the benefits and challenges of improving the way we communicate the benefits and risks of therapeutics via mass media, especially news media. Workshop discussions revealed a paucity of systematic research directed towards understanding how and why news media report on therapeutic risk, the impact of this coverage and how coverage can be improved. Consequently, participants produced a research agenda capturing the key aspects of the flow of information around this topic, including the meaning of risk, how news audiences process and use therapeutic risk information in the news, how and why news organizations report on therapeutic risk, and the role and impact of the pharmaceutical industry, government officials and academic researchers as sources of therapeutic risk information. The workshop ended with a discussion on action items addressing what news professionals, representatives of regulatory agencies and the medical products industry, and academic researchers can and should do to enable news media to effectively report therapeutic risk information. In sum, this proceedings report provides an outline for developing mass media risk communication research, influencing the practices of journalists and expert sources and ultimately, improving the quality of the public's life.

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