At 4 million strong, nurses make up the largest segment of the health care workforce and are consistently considered the most trustworthy profession, according to Gallup polls. Yet their voices and images have been woefully underrepresented in health news stories, despite their relevance to almost any health issue.
In 1998, Sigma Theta Tau, the nursing honorary society, published "The Woodhull Study on Nursing and the Media: Health Care's Invisible Partner," documenting that nurses were used as sources in only 4 percent of health news stories in leading newspapers, and only 1 percent in weeklies and industry publications. The study also found nurses were seldom identified in photos accompanying stories.
The new study had two phases. The first replicated the original Woodhull study. Partnering with Berkeley Media Studies Group, we collected healthcare stories from the same sources used in 1998 -- nearly 550 articles from eight newspapers, four magazines and three healthcare industry publications, published in September 2017.
Mason, D.J., Nixon, L., Glickstein, B. Han, S., Westphaln, K. & Carter, L. (2018). The Woodhull Study Revisited: Nurses' Representation in Health News Media 20 Years later. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 50(6), 695-704.
The second phase of the study looked at health journalists' experiences with using nurses as sources. We interviewed 10 health journalists about their experiences with finding and reaching nurses as sources in their stories, as well as their perspectives on related barriers.
Mason, D.J., Glickstein, B., & Westphaln, K. (2018). Journalists’ experiences with using nurses as sources in health news stories. American Journal of Nursing, 118(10), 42-50.
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