The coverage of cancer in the Israeli press

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Cancer, being a terminal and often incurable disease, is a source of fear and concern for people. One of the most important sources for 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 in terms of the types of cancer reported, and the emphasis on death in the context of the disease. Methods: A systematic content analysis was applied to test these hypotheses, examining all the press reports published in Israel's most popular daily newspapers during the year 2000. Data from the Israeli Ministry of Health was used for comparison with media reports. Results: The findings of the study are in accordance with the main hypothesis and show that media portrayals of cancer are not always reflecting the medical reality. Several explanations are offered to explain these findings, focusing mainly on the nature of news making and media selection as well 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. Conclusions: The findings of this study join a wide range of studies in different areas of human knowledge and judgments 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)542S-542S
JournalJournal of Clinical Oncology
Issue number14_suppl
StatePublished - 2004


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