Dirty dancing: Health journalists and the pharmaceutical industry

A new report analyzes the complex ways in which Belgian magazines deal with health information on the pharmaceutical industry supplied by PR practitioners.  Based on content analysis of health items in a representative sample of magazines and interviews with magazine health journalists and their editors, the authors found that academic and medical experts were  the most important sources for journalists.  While the researchers found few explicit references to pharmaceutical industry sources, the interviews suggest that pharmaceutical PR creeps into health coverage in a more indirect and much more sophisticated manner, for instance by offering additional services such as contacts with scientists or patients. The authors concluded that the influence of pharmaceutical PR in magazine health news is stronger than would be expected based solely on quantitative analyses of editorial content.

Full citation: De Dobbelaer R , Van Leuven S, Raeymaeckers K. Dirty dancing: Health journalists and the pharmaceutical industry a multi-method study on the impact of pharma PR on magazine health. Public Relations Review (2017), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pubrev.2017.02.002