Cancer in Israel: Mass mediated reality vs. real reality

G. Weimann, N. Haim, A. Kuten, E. Lev

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Cancer, being a terminal and often incurable disease, is a source of fear and concern for human beings. One of the most important sources of medical information in general, and cancer specifically, is the mass media. The media can shape beliefs regarding health and influence people's decision-making. The main hypothesis guiding this study, based on the theoretical framework of cultivation research, is that there will be considerable differences between media coverage and medical data regarding cancer in the Israeli population. Method: A systematic content analysis was applied to test this hypothesis, examining all the press reports (650 articles) published during the year 2000 in three of Israel's most popular daily newspapers - Yedioth Ahronot, Maariv and Haaretz. Data from the Israeli Ministry of Health was used for comparison with \ media reports to the population in terms of the types of cancer reported, the emphasis on death in the context of the disease, reports concerning treatment, and the age of cancer patients. Results: The findings of the study are in accordance with the main hypothesis and show that the media's portrayal of cancer does not always reflect the medical reality regarding the above mentioned aspects. Several possible explanations are proposed in analyzing these findings, focusing mainly on the nature of news making and media selection, as well as on the impact of various interest groups such as pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, laboratories, oncology departments, and various organizations trying to promote awareness and raise funds for research. Conclusion: The findings of this study enhance a wide range of research in different areas of human knowledge that have documented processes of constructing mass-mediated realities, but in the case of a fatal disease, the findings may have acute implications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-88
Number of pages4
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2005


  • Cancer
  • Health communication
  • Media coverage
  • Medical reality
  • Newspapers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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