Driving under the influence of cannabis (DUIC) is a major cause of preventable death and a growing public health concern. News media coverage of DUIC may influence public perceptions of causal factors for DUIC, risks of DUIC, and potential policy solutions. This study examines Israeli news media coverage of DUIC, and contrasts media coverage according to whether news items refer to cannabis use for medical vs. non-medical purposes. We conducted a quantitative content analysis of news articles related to driving accidents and cannabis use (N = 299) from eleven of the highest circulation newspapers in Israel between 2008 and 2020. We apply attribution theory to analyze media coverage of accidents that were linked to medical cannabis, use compared with non-medical use. News items describing DUIC in the context of non-medical (vs. medical) cannabis use were more likely to: (a) emphasize individual causes (vs. social and political); (b) describe drivers in negative terms (vs. neutral or positive); (c) refer to an increased accident risk due to cannabis use (vs. inconclusive or low risk); and (d) call for increased enforcement rather than education. Results show that Israeli news media coverage of cannabis-impaired driving varied significantly depending on whether it referred to cannabis use for medical purposes, or non-medical purposes. News media coverage may influence public perceptions of the risks of DUIC, the factors that are associated with this issue, and potential policy solutions that may reduce the prevalence of DUIC in Israel.
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ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health(social science)