205636 Misrepresentation of joint supplements and treatment of knee pain in popular men's periodicals

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Hans Van Lancker , Brown Medical School, Providence, RI
Edward Feller, MD, FACP , Warren Alpert Medical School, Brown University, Providence, RI
Background: As many as one million individuals in the USA take oral over-the-counter (OTC) joint supplements glucosamine and chondroitin for prevention or treatment of knee pain or osteoarthritis despite inconclusive or negative studies of therapeutic benefits. Mass media periodicals are a common source of health information. We analyzed how prevention and care of knee pain by supplements are depicted in magazines. Our hypothesis was that representation of non-prescription products would frequently be inaccurate or unbalanced.

Methods: Using Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature database, we searched highcirculation men's periodicals (2000 to 2008), using terms: << knee pain>>, << joint supplements>>,<< osteoarthritis>>,<< chondroitin sulfate or glucosamine>>, and << Magazine name>> for relevant citations. We performed a content analysis, assessing each report for accuracy, themes depicted, and recommendations.

Results: Eighteen of twenty-two (82%) depicted glucosamine or chondroitin as potential cures for non-specific knee pain or osteoarthritis. Articles typically misinterpreted medical data, representing supplements as effective. A majority of reports contained undocumented, misleading statements, such as the “best defense against post-game knee pain”. Only two articles (9%) recommended seeing a doctor if pain persisted. Four articles advised all men under age 30 to take supplements.

Discussion: Media plays a vital role in public health education. Popular portrayal of joint supplement indications and results is commonly inaccurate and neglects critical healthcare issues. The message may lead men to believe that supplements can prevent or treat all knee pain. Collaboration of public health workers and communities is critical to enhance media literacy and optimize health outcomes.

Learning Objectives:
1. Assess popular media messages about non-prescription (OTC) supplements for knee pain 2. Identify misrepresentations of joint supplement effectiveness in popular media.

Keywords: Media Message, Male Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I personally did the reseach and wrote the manuscript while studying under Dr Edward Feller MD at Brown Medical School. I have no conflict of interest, personal or financial, with what I have researched.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.