Over half the British public wrongly believed that medical science was split
down the middle about the safety of the Measles Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine according to research by Cardiff University.
Although almost all scientific experts rejected the claim of a link between MMR and autism, 53% of those surveyed at the height of the media coverage assumed that because both sides of the debate received equal media coverage, there must be equal evidence for each. Only 23% of the population were aware that the bulk of evidence favoured supporters of the vaccine.
Focussing on three massive scientific issues climate change, genetics and the MMR vaccine researchers in the School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies at Cardiff University, looked at the way the topics were reported by print and broadcast journalists and at the public's knowledge of the issues.
The new survey, conducted by Professor Ian Hargreaves, Professor Justin Lewis and Tammy Spears, with funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), will re-ignite a heated debate about the way the media covered the MMR controversy and the way journalists deal with minority voices within science.
While journalists have vigorously defended the amount of space given to Dr Andrew Wakefield's concerns about the MMR vaccine, nearly half the British public appear to disagree. 48% of those surveyed felt that on matters of public health, journalists should wait until other studies confirm findings before reporting alarming research. 34% however felt that concerns like those of Wakefield's are newsworthy and should be
Professor Justin Lewis, one of the authors of the survey, said: "The survey confirms that the news media play a key role in informing the way people understand issues such as the controversy around MMR. While Wakefield's claims are of legitimate public interest, our report shows that research questioning the safety of something that is widPage: 1 2 3 Related medicine news :1
Contact: Prof Justin Lewis
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