What the newspapers say about medication adherence: a content analysis

Nicola A. Goodfellow, Basima A. Almomani, Ahmed F. Hawwa, James C. McElnay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background - This study investigates the coverage of adherence to medicine by the UK and US newsprint media. Adherence to medicine is recognised as an important issue facing healthcare professionals and the newsprint media is a key source of health information, however, little is known about newspaper coverage of medication adherence.
Methods - A search of the newspaper database Nexis®UK from 2004–2011 was performed. Content analysis of newspaper articles which referenced medication adherence from the twelve highest circulating UK and US daily newspapers and their Sunday equivalents was carried out. A second researcher coded a 15% sample of newspaper articles to establish the inter-rater reliability of coding.
Results - Searches of newspaper coverage of medication adherence in the UK and US yielded 181 relevant articles for each country. There was a large increase in the number of scientific articles on medication adherence in PubMed® over the study period, however, this was not reflected in the frequency of newspaper articles published on medication adherence. UK newspaper articles were significantly more likely to report the benefits of adherence (p = 0.005), whereas US newspaper articles were significantly more likely to report adherence issues in the elderly population (p = 0.004) and adherence associated with diseases of the central nervous system (p = 0.046). The most commonly reported barriers to adherence were patient factors e.g. poor memory, beliefs and age, whereas, the most commonly reported facilitators to adherence were medication factors including simplified regimens, shorter treatment duration and combination tablets. HIV/AIDS was the single most frequently cited disease (reported in 20% of newspaper articles). Poor quality reporting of medication adherence was identified in 62% of newspaper articles.
Conclusion - Adherence is not well covered in the newspaper media despite a significant presence in the medical literature. The mass media have the potential to help educate and shape the public’s knowledge regarding the importance of medication adherence; this potential is not being realised at present.
Original languageEnglish
Article number909
JournalBMC Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2013

Bibliographical note

© 2013 Goodfellow et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


  • newspaper article
  • newspapers
  • patient compliance
  • adherence


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