The role of the media in influencing perceptions of osteoporosis and its treatment

Disease - Osteoporosis

Lead applicant - Dr Zoe Paskins

Organisation - Keele University

Type of grant - PhD Scholarship 2019

Status of grant - Active from 1 October 2020

Amount of the original award - £140,054.34

Start date - 1 October 2020

Reference - 22528

Public Summary 

What are the aims of this research?  

This project aims to better understand how osteoporosis and its treatment is covered in the media, and how this affects people with the condition. Researchers will study how osteoporosis is described and the language that is used in newspapers, magazines, online news and television. They will also explore how media messages influences whether people take medicine or adopt lifestyle changes, using discussion groups with clinicians and people with (or at high risk of) osteoporosis.

Why is this research important?  

Osteoporosis is common in the UK and the risk increases with age. It causes bones to become more fragile and more likely to fracture. There are many lifestyle changes and treatments that can help reduce the risk of osteoporosis, however the number of people receiving treatment for osteoporosis is declining. Researchers believe the coverage in the media may have an impact on this, with the side-effects of treatment being overstated.

How will the findings benefit patients?

Findings from this research will be used to develop media guidelines to challenge negative or incorrect media messages about osteoporosis. Whilst helping people to be better informed about osteoporosis, the findings could also support training and education for healthcare professionals. This could help to ensure information from the medical and research community are optimised to promote uptake of effective treatments, ultimately helping patients to improve or maintain quality of life.