Online Program

Retinal implants: The media perspective

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Alice Chuang, BS, Alpert Medical School, Division of Ophthalmology, Brown University, Providence, RI
Allison Chen, BA, Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, RI
Paul Greenberg, MD, Division of Ophthalmology, Rhode Island Hospital, Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, RI
Objective: Retinal implants offer an innovative approach to restoring sight. Numerous media sources report promising results. This study analyzes the reliability of reports from the three most common news sources in the United States: television, newspapers, and the internet.

Methods: Three readers independently graded media reports discussing retinal implants in comparison to peer-reviewed literature indexed in PubMed. A standardized grading scale was used, covering the categories of “scientific accuracy,” “tone neutrality,” and “realistic outlook.” Subscore scale was 1-5, with total scores for each report ranging from 3-15. Inter-observer reliability was assessed using the intraclass correlation coefficient.

Results: Average media scores were: broadcast news 10.28, internet news 10.29, cable news 11.12, national newspapers 12.42. Internet news was the most emotion-based and often inappropriately optimistic. Television news reports were moderately neutral and informative. Newspaper articles were the most factually correct and emotionally neutral. Overall, subscores were: realistic outlook 3.51, scientific accuracy 3.71, tone neutrality 3.81. Unrealistic expectations were more common than factual inaccuracies.

Conclusions: Media reports tend to over-emphasize the clinical progress of retinal implants, with internet and television news being the least reliable. Further research is needed to determine how patient exposure to these reports affects interactions with clinicians.

Learning Areas:

Basic medical science applied in public health
Communication and informatics
Public health or related education

Learning Objectives:
Compare media portrayal of retinal implants to peer-reviewed literature. Describe differences in quality of news about retinal implants between various media sources.

Keyword(s): Media, Patient Education

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: As a student of the Brown University Alpert Medical School, I participated in the Summer Assistantship program and conducted literature research about retinal implants and media portrayal of retinal implants.
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.

Back to: 4276.1: Vision and eye health