Health and the mass media

For those of you, who are unaware, medical journalism is a way to share the many medical research projects conducted around the world. It started as a way to share the ‘researcher’s’ experiences. Medical journalism makes sure research is not repeated many times and also makes sure, it is conducted in an efficient way. Furthermore, it is a very important platform to increase the awareness of research in the medical community.

The mass media (like the television, newspapers, magazines, radio etc.), have an enormous reach in our communities. Their influence among the general public is extensive. They influence the health beliefs of the people. So much so that, sometimes, people even seek a new mode of treatment or avoid certain treatments or drugs depending on the latest health news they learn through the media.

When media plays such an important role in people’s lives, it is essential that the medical information being imparted is unbiased and accurate.

For instance, if we look at the medical reporting of the Sars-CoV2 pandemic, initially a lot of misinformation had made way into the public domain. Making a ‘mountain out of a mole’ – the present day mantra of certain media houses clubbed with the Covid19 hysteria and frenzy, was definitely the recipe for disaster. But luckily, with time, the facts have become more accurate and the hysterics have curtailed. With new emerging information, more research data and rampant vaccination across the globe, panic have somewhat diminished.

Likewise, every field of medicine has experienced the somewhat unwelcome attention of the media. Nonetheless, we cannot affirmatively say, the attention has been adverse every time. There has been instances when the mass media helped in making sure the desired/sound medical advice/information has a wider reach. There are scientific literature which have found that, oral hygiene habits of people have improved significantly due to the influence of mass media. Many controlled trials have demonstrated the positive impact of media houses where the peoples’ oral health have improved.

Media can be a double edged sword. Information should be gleaned from it but people should understand how to assimilate or process that information. Information gathered from the media should not be misconstrued as the ultimate health guide. It is essential to discuss your oral health dilemmas with your dentist. Look for a scientific explanation when in doubt. It is crucial to debunk the myths and take the information with a pinch of salt!

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