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October 28, 1983

Medically Muddled Media

Author Affiliations

New York; Pittsburgh

JAMA. 1983;250(16):2137. doi:10.1001/jama.1983.03340160029026

Television and radio programs could be the ideal vehicle for giving sound health information to the public. But as any physician who has winced at the medical discussions on talk shows knows only too well, this resource is being wasted and misused to promote fallacies, it seems, more often than facts.

It is customary to blame the media and their obsession with ratings for the prevalence of health hogwash on the air, and they certainly are partly responsible. What we usually fail to recognize, however, is that we, the medical profession, share the blame. If the situation is to change, we must help to change it.

The enormous impact of the media should not be ignored. Television and radio have huge audiences that trust them as reliable sources of information. Unfortunately, most viewers do not realize that it is perfectly legal to present misinformation about health on the air, as