Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Battles and breakthroughs: representations of dementia in the British press

  • Annika Bailey (a1), Tom Dening (a2) and Kevin Harvey (a1)

Abstract

Media coverage of dementia can influence public and professional attitudes towards the syndrome, shaping societal knowledge of dementia and impacting how people with dementia are cared for. This paper reports on a study of news articles about dementia published in the British press in the years 2012–2017. The analysis combines the tools of corpus linguistics, a methodology for quantitatively surveying a vast amount of electronic linguistic data, with the qualitative perspectives of Critical Discourse Analysis, which seeks to uncover dominant discourses and ideologies. The most salient discourse that emerged from this analysis was the portrayal of dementia in biomedical terms, with a particular focus on the pathological processes of dementia, and pharmaceutical treatments and research. Keywords relating to this discourse are interrogated in detail, illuminating the linguistic strategies through which the pathology of dementia and people with dementia are depicted. This study highlights the challenges that this type of reporting presents to people living with dementia and their families, and points to the relevance of a discursive approach to understanding societal perceptions of dementia.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Battles and breakthroughs: representations of dementia in the British press
      Available formats
      ×

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Battles and breakthroughs: representations of dementia in the British press
      Available formats
      ×

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Battles and breakthroughs: representations of dementia in the British press
      Available formats
      ×

Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

*Corresponding author. Email: annika.bailey@nottingham.ac.uk

References

Hide All
Adolphs, S, Brown, B, Carter, R, Crawford, P and Sahota, O (2004) Applying corpus linguistics in a health care context. Journal of Applied Linguistics 1, 928.
Alzheimer's Association (2018) Alzheimer Basics: Plaques and Tangles. Available at https://www.alz.org/norcal/in_my_community_20545.asp.
Alzheimer's Society (2014) Dementia UK Update. Available at https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/sites/default/files/migrate/downloads/dementia_uk_update.pdf.
Atanasova, D, Koteyko, N, Brown, B and Crawford, P (2019) Representations of mental health and arts participation in the national and local British press, 2007–2015. Health 23, 320.
Atkins, S and Harvey, K (2010) How to use corpus linguistics in the study of health communication. In O'Keeffe, A and McCarthy, M (eds), The Routledge Handbook of Corpus Linguistics. London: Routledge, pp. 605619.
Baker, P (2010) Sociolinguistics and Corpus Linguistics. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Baker, P, Gabrielatos, C, Khosravinik, M, Krzyzanowski, M, McEnery, T and Wodak, R (2008) A useful methodological synergy? Combining critical discourse analysis and corpus linguistics to examine discourses of refugees and asylum seekers in the UK press. Discourse & Society 19, 273306.
Basting, A (2009) Forget Memory: Creating Better Lives for People with Dementia. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Behuniak, SM (2011) The living dead? The construction of people with Alzheimer's disease as zombies. Ageing & Society 31, 7092.
Bell, A (1991) The Language of News Media. Oxford: Blackwell.
Brookes, G, Harvey, K, Chadborn, N and Dening, T (2018) ‘Our biggest killer’: multimodal discourse representations of dementia in the British press. Social Semiotics 28, 371395.
Brown, B, Crawford, P and Carter, R (2006) Evidence Based Health Communication. Buckingham, UK: Open University Press.
Burr, V (2015) Social Constructionism. Hove, UK: Routledge.
Cheng, W (2011) Exploring Corpus Linguistics: Language in Action. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.
Clarke, JN (2006) The case of the missing person: Alzheimer's disease in mass print magazines 1991–2001. Health Communication 19, 269276.
Crawford, P, Brown, B and Harvey, K (2014) Corpus linguistics and evidence-based health communication. In Hamilton, HE and Chou, WS (eds), The Routledge Handbook of Language and Health Communication. Abingdon, UK: Routledge, pp. 7590.
Demmen, J, Semino, E, Demjen, Z, Koller, V, Hardie, A, Rayson, P and Payne, S (2015) A computer-assisted study of the use of Violence metaphors for cancer and end of life by patients, family carers and health professionals. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics 20, 205231.
Dening, T and Babu Sandilyan, M (2015) Medical treatment and management of patients with dementia. Nursing Standard 29, 4349.
Department of Health (2012) Prime Minister's Challenge on Dementia. London: Department of Health.
Department of Health (2015) Prime Minister's Challenge on Dementia 2020. London: Department of Health.
Fairclough, N (2015) Language and Power. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.
Fisher, S (1984) Doctor–patient communication: a social and micro-political performance. Sociology of Health and Illness 6, 129.
Flowerdew, J and Richardson, JE (2018) Introduction. In Flowerdew, J and Richardson, JE (eds), The Routledge Handbook of Critical Discourse Studies. London: Routledge, pp. 111.
Fowler, R (1991) Language in the News: Discourse and Ideology in the Press. London: Routledge.
Frank, AW (2013) The Wounded Storyteller. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Gabrielatos, C and Baker, P (2008) Fleeing, sneaking, flooding: a corpus analysis of discursive constructions of refugees and asylum seekers in the UK press, 1996–2005. Journal of English Linguistics 36, 538.
George, DR and Whitehouse, PJ (2014) The War (on Terror) on Alzheimer's. Dementia 13, 120130.
Gwyn, R (2001) Communicating Health and Illness. London: Sage.
Hardt-Mautner, G (1995) ‘Only Connect’. Critical discourse analysis and corpus linguistics. Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK, UCREL Technical Paper 6.
Hart, C (2014) Discourse, Grammar and Ideology: Functional and Cognitive Perspectives. London: Bloomsbury.
Harvey, K (2013) Investigating Adolescent Health Communication. London: Bloomsbury.
Hodgkin, P (1985) Medicine is war: and other medical metaphors. British Medical Journal 291, 2128.
Hunt, D and Harvey, K (2015) Health communication and corpus linguistics: using corpus tools to analyse eating disorder discourse online. In Baker, P and McEnery, T (eds), Corpora and Discourse Studies. London: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 134154.
James, IA and Fossey, J (2013) Nonpharmacological interventions in care homes. In Dening, T and Thomas, A (eds), Oxford Textbook of Old Age Psychiatry. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 269282.
Johnstone, MJ (2013) Metaphors, stigma and the ‘Alzheimerization’ of the euthanasia debate. Dementia 12, 377393.
Johnstone, MJ (2016) Alzheimer's Disease, Media Representations and the Politics of Euthanasia: Constructing Risk and Selling Death in an Ageing Society. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.
Kang, S, Gearhart, S and Bae, H (2010) Coverage of Alzheimer's disease from 1984 to 2008 in television news and information talk shows in the United States: an analysis of news framing. American Journal of Alzheimer's Disease & Other Dementias 25, 687697.
Kessler, EM and Schwender, C (2012) Giving dementia a face? The portrayal of older people with dementia in German weekly news magazines between the years 2000 and 2009. Journals of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences 67B, 261270.
Kirkman, AM (2006) Dementia in the news: the media coverage of Alzheimer's disease. Australasian Journal on Ageing 25, 7479.
Kitwood, T (1997) Dementia Reconsidered: The Person Comes First. Buckingham, UK: Open University Press.
Koteyko, N, Nerlich, B, Crawford, P and Wright, N (2008) ‘Not rocket science’ or ‘no silver bullet’? Media and government discourses about MRSA and cleanliness. Applied Linguistics 29, 223243.
Lane, HP, McLachlan, S and Philip, J (2013) The war against dementia: are we battle weary yet? Age and Ageing 42, 281283.
Lawless, M and Augoustinos, M (2017) Brain health advice in the news: managing notions of individual responsibility in media discourse on cognitive decline and dementia. Qualitative Research in Psychology 14, 6280.
Lock, M (2013) The Alzheimer's Conundrum. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Lupton, D (1999) Editorial: Health, illness and medicine in the media. Health 3, 259262.
Matheson, D (2005) Media Discourses. Maidenhead, UK: Open University Press.
Moynihan, R, Bero, L, Ross-Degnan, D, Henry, D, Lee, K, Watkins, J, Mah, C and Soumerai, S (2000) Coverage by the news media of the benefits and risks of medications. New England Journal of Medicine 342, 16451650.
Office for National Statistics (2017) Deaths Registered in England and Wales (Series DR): 2016. Available at https://www.ons.gov.uk/releases/deathsregisteredinenglandandwalesseriesdr2016.
Peel, E (2014) ‘The living death of Alzheimer's’ versus ‘Take a walk to keep dementia at bay’: representations of dementia in print media and carer discourse. Sociology of Health & Illness 36, 885901.
Ramon, S (2007) Risk communication and the media. In Hillier, D (ed.), Communicating Health Risks to the Public: A Global Perspective. London: Routledge, pp. 8393.
Rayson, P (2013) Corpus analysis of key words. In Chapelle, CA (ed.), The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics. Hoboken, NJ: Blackwell Publishing, pp. 17.
Schwitzer, G (2008) How do US journalists cover treatments, tests, products, and procedures? An evaluation of 500 stories. PLOS Medicine 5, 700704.
Scott, M and Tribble, C (2006) Textual Patterns: Key Words and Corpus Analysis in Language Education. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.
Seale, C (2003) Health and media: an overview. Sociology of Health & Illness 25, 513531.
Shuchman, M and Wilkes, M (1997) Medical scientists and health news reporting: a case of miscommunication. Annals of Internal Medicine 126, 976982.
Siiner, M (2019) Let me grow old and senile in peace: Norwegian newspaper accounts of voice and agency with dementia. Ageing & Society 39, 977997.
Skelton, JR and Hobbs, FD (1999) Descriptive study of cooperative language in primary care consultations by male and female doctors. British Medical Journal 18, 576579.
Stubbs, M (2010) Three concepts of keywords. In Bondi, M and Scott, M (eds), Keyness in Texts. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company, pp. 1942.
Swaffer, K (2014) Dementia and prescribed disengagement. Dementia 14, 36.
Swinnen, A and Schweda, M (2015) Popularizing dementia: public expressions and representations of forgetfulness. In Swinnen, A and Schweda, M (eds), Popularizing Dementia: Public Expressions and Representations of Forgetfulness. Bielefeld, Germany: Transcript Verlag, pp. 922.
Thompson, G (2014) Introducing Functional Grammar. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.
Toolan, M (1997) What is critical discourse analysis and why are people saying such terrible things about it? Language and Literature 6, 83103.
Van Dijk, TA (1988) News as Discourse. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Van Dijk, TA (1998) Discourse and ideology. Discourse & Society 9, 307308.
Van Gorp, B and Vercruysse, T (2012) Frames and counter-frames giving meaning to dementia: a framing analysis of media content. Social Science & Medicine 74, 12741281.
Van Leeuwen, T (1995) The representation of social actors. In Caldas-Coulthard, CR and Coulthard, M (eds), Texts and Practices: Readings in Critical Discourse Analysis. London: Routledge, pp. 3270.
Widdowson, H (1996) Reply to Fairclough. Discourse and interpretation. Conjectures and reflections. Language and Literature 5, 5796.
Wilson, A, Bonevski, B, Jones, A and Henry, D (2009) Media reporting of health interventions: signs of improvement, but major problems persist. PLOS ONE 4, 15.
Wodak, R (2001) What CDA is about: a summary of its history, important concepts, and its developments. In Wodak, R and Meyer, M (eds), Methods of Critical Discourse Analysis. London: Sage, pp. 113.
Zeilig, H (2013) Dementia as a cultural metaphor. The Gerontologist 54, 258267.
Zeilig, H (2015) What do we mean when we talk about dementia? Exploring cultural representations of ‘dementia’. Working with Older People 19, 1220.

Keywords

Battles and breakthroughs: representations of dementia in the British press

  • Annika Bailey (a1), Tom Dening (a2) and Kevin Harvey (a1)

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed