Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-559fc8cf4f-7x8lp Total loading time: 0.555 Render date: 2021-03-06T02:59:35.190Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": false, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true }

Needlessly controversial: the reporting of pharmaco- and psycho-therapy for the treatment of depression in the UK media

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 May 2020

Anushka Pathak
Affiliation:
Medical School, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
Elizabeth Lim
Affiliation:
Medical School, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
Stephen Lawrie
Affiliation:
Division of Psychiatry, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
Corresponding
E-mail address:

Abstract

Background

It is well-established that media influences public perceptions, and that media coverage of psychiatry is negative compared to the rest of medicine. No studies that we know of, have compared media reporting on antidepressants and talking therapies as treatments for depression. We hypothesised that coverage of antidepressants would be more negative than that of psychotherapies in both headlines and articles.

Methods

We identified online articles in The Sun, Daily Mirror, Daily Mail, Daily Express, and The Guardian between 11 June 2013 and 11 June 2018. Two raters independently evaluated their titles/content with regard to their portrayal of antidepressants and psychotherapies (positive/negative/neutral), with good inter-rater reliability.

Results

We identified 221 articles. Antidepressants featured in 184 articles, of which 27 (15%) portrayed them positively, 68 (37%) negatively, and 89 (48%) neutrally; and 173 headlines, of which 24 (14%) portrayed them positively, 64 (37%) negatively, and 85 (49%) neutrally. Antidepressants received more coverage than psychotherapy, which featured in 132 articles, of which 48 (36%) portrayed them positively, 3 (2%) negatively, and 81 (61%) neutrally; and 53 headlines, of which 16 (30%) portrayed them positively, 2 (4%) negatively, and 35 (66%) neutrally. A Fisher's exact test revealed a statistically significant difference between the portrayal of antidepressants and psychotherapies in both articles (p = 2.86 × 10−15) and headlines (p = 2.79 × 10−6).

Conclusion

Despite the two treatments being similarly effective, the portrayal of antidepressants in the UK online media is more negative than that of psychotherapy. This could potentially discourage patients from considering taking antidepressants, and provoke patients currently taking antidepressants to stop abruptly.

Type
Original Articles
Copyright
Copyright © The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below.

References

Adlington, K. (2018). Pop a million happy pills? Antidepressants, nuance, and the media. British Medical Journal (Clinical Research Ed.), 360, k1069. doi: 10.1136/bmj.k1069m.Google Scholar
American Psychiatric Association, DSM-5 Task Force. (2013). Major depressive disorder. In Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed., pp. 160168). Washington DC: American Psychiatric Publishing, Inc. doi: 10.1176/appi.books.9780890425596.dsm04.Google Scholar
Amick, H. R., Gartlehner, G., Gaynes, B. N., Forneris, C., Asher, G. N., Morgan, L. C., … Lohr, K. N. (2015). Comparative benefits and harms of second generation antidepressants and cognitive behavioral therapies in initial treatment of major depressive disorder: Systematic review and meta-analysis. British Medical Journal (Clinical Research Ed.), 351, h6019. doi: 10.1136/bmj.h6019.Google ScholarPubMed
Angermeyer, M. C., van der Auwera, S., Carta, M. G., & Schomerus, G. (2017). Public attitudes towards psychiatry and psychiatric treatment at the beginning of the 21st century: A systematic review and meta-analysis of population surveys. World Psychiatry, 16(1), 5061. doi: 10.1002/wps.20383.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Aragonès, E., López-Muntaner, J., Ceruelo, S., & Basora, J. (2014). Reinforcing stigmatization: Coverage of mental illness in Spanish newspapers. Journal of Health Communication, 19(11), 12481258. doi: 10.1080/10810730.2013.872726.Google ScholarPubMed
Borinstein, A. B. (1992). Public attitudes toward persons with mental illness. Health Affairs, 11(3), 186196. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.11.3.186.Google ScholarPubMed
Boseley, S. (2008). Prozac, used by 40 m people, does not work say scientists. The Guardian, February 26. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/society/2008/feb/26/mentalhealth.medicalresearch.Google Scholar
Boseley, S. (2018). The drugs do work: antidepressants are effective, study shows. The Guardian, February 21. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/feb/21/the-drugs-do-work-antidepressants-are-effective-study-shows.Google Scholar
Chen, M., & Lawrie, S. (2017). Newspaper depictions of mental and physical health. BJPsych Bulletin, 41(6), 308313. doi: 10.1192/pb.bp.116.054775.Google ScholarPubMed
Cipriani, A., Furukawa, T. A., Salanti, G., Chaimani, A., Atkinson, L. Z., Ogawa, Y., … Geddes, J. R. (2018). Comparative efficacy and acceptability of 21 antidepressant drugs for the acute treatment of adults with major depressive disorder: A systematic review and network meta-analysis. The Lancet, 391(10128), 13571366. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(17)32802-7.Google ScholarPubMed
Craske, M. G., & Stein, M. B. (2016). Anxiety. The Lancet, 388(10063), 30483059. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(16)30381-6.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Crawford, M. J., Thana, L., Farquharson, L., Palmer, L., Hancock, E., Bassett, P., … Parry, G. D. (2016). Patient experience of negative effects of psychological treatment: Results of a national survey. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 208(3), 260265. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.114.162628.Google Scholar
Daily Express. (2014). Richard E. Grant: “Therapy saved my life.” Daily Express, April 28. Retrieved from https://www.express.co.uk/celebrity-news/472827/Richard-E-Grant-Therapy-saved-my-life.Google Scholar
Daily Express. (2018). Antidepressants DO work and millions more should be on them. Daily Express, February 22. Retrieved from https://www.express.co.uk/life-style/health/922423/depression-news-antidepressants-drugs-work-study-oxford-university-UK-mental-health.Google Scholar
Day, D. M., & Page, S. (1986). Portrayal of mental illness in Canadian newspapers. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 31(9), 813817. doi: 10.1177/070674378603100904.Google ScholarPubMed
Dietrich, S., Heider, D., Matschinger, H., & Angermeyer, M. C. (2006). Influence of newspaper reporting on adolescents’ attitudes toward people with mental illness. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 41(4), 318322. doi: 10.1007/s00127-005-0026-y.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Dunne, D. (2017). Children YOUNGER than SIX are being prescribed antidepressants by doctors who are using them as a “sticking plaster”, experts warn. Daily Mirror, June 20. Retrieved from https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-4621124/Antidepressants-prescribed-children-six.html.Google Scholar
Ecker, U. K. H., Lewandowsky, S., Chang, E. P., & Pillai, R. (2014). The effects of subtle misinformation in news headlines. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 20(4), 323335. doi: 10.1037/xap0000028.Google ScholarPubMed
James, O. (2014). Is the NHS's therapy for depression a total waste of time? GOOD HEALTH viewpoint. Daily Mail, October 21. Retrieved from https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2800946/is-nhs-s-therapy-depression-total-waste-time.html.Google Scholar
Johnston, L. (2017). Mother says antidepressant drugs turned her son into a “psychotic killer.” Daily Express, July 30. Retrieved from https://www.express.co.uk/life-style/health/834580/antidepressants-drug-murder-killing-rampage-Shane-Clancy.Google Scholar
Lawrie, S. M. (2000). Newspaper coverage of psychiatric and physical illness. Psychiatric Bulletin, 24(3), 104106. doi: 10.1192/pb.24.3.104.Google Scholar
Lubian, K., Weich, S., Stansfeld, S., Bebbington, P., Brugha, T., Spiers, N., … Cooper, C. (2016). Mental health treatment and services. In Mental health and wellbeing in England: Adult psychiatric morbidity survey 2014 (pp. 70105). Leeds: NHS Digital.Google Scholar
Malhi, G. S., & Mann, J. J. (2018). Depression. The Lancet, 6736(18), 113. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(18)31948-2.Google Scholar
McCormack, J., & Korownyk, C. (2018). Effectiveness of antidepressants. British Medical Journal, 360, k1073. doi: 10.1136/bmj.k1073.Google ScholarPubMed
National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. (2018). Depression in adults: recognition and management. Retrieved from https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg90/chapter/1-Guidance#care-of-all-people-with-depression.Google Scholar
National Readership Survey. (2016). Newsbrands: Print/PC. NRS October ‘15 – September ‘16 / comScore September ‘16. Retrieved from http://www.nrs.co.uk/latest-results/nrs-padd-results/newspapers-nrspaddresults/#.Google Scholar
Nutt, D. J., & Sharpe, M. (2008). Uncritical positive regard? Issues in the efficacy and safety of psychotherapy. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 22(1), 36. http://doi.org/10.1177/0269881107086283.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Office of Communications. (2019). News Consumption in the UK: 2019. Retrieved from https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0027/157914/uk-news-consumption-2019-report.pdf.Google Scholar
Parker, G. (2018). The benefits of antidepressants: News or fake news? The British Journal of Psychiatry, 213(2), 454455. doi: 10.1192/bjp.2018.98.Google ScholarPubMed
Parry, L. (2016). Common antidepressants “do NOT increase the risk of heart attacks and stroke.” Daily Mail, March 22. Retrieved from https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3505142/Common-antidepressants-NOT-increase-risk-heart-attacks-stroke.html.Google Scholar
Parsons, J. (2015). Antidepressant drugs are “immensely harmful” and responsible for thousands of deaths, claims leading scientist. Daily Mirror, May 13. Retrieved from https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/technology-science/science/antidepressant-drugs-immensely-harmful-responsible-5690650.Google Scholar
Pieters, G., De Gucht, V., & Kajosch, H. (2003). Newspaper coverage of psychiatry and general medicine: Comparing tabloids with broadsheets. Psychiatric Bulletin, 27(7), 259260. doi: 10.1192/pb.27.7.259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Royal College of Psychiatrists. (2017). Public Education Handbook: Practical Advice on Working with the Media. Royal College of Psychiatrists, London. https://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/docs/default-source/news-and-features/media-centre/public_education_handbook_2017.pdf?sfvrsn=a3e007a7_2Google Scholar
Scheufele, D. A., & Tewksbury, D. (2007). Framing, agenda setting, and priming: The evolution of three media effects models. Journal of Communication, 27, 920. 10.1111/j.0021-9916.2007.00326.x.Google Scholar
Smith, M. (2017). How left or right-wing are the UK's newspapers? YouGov, March 7. Retrieved from https://yougov.co.uk/topics/politics/articles-reports/2017/03/07/how-left-or-right-wing-are-uks-newspapers.Google Scholar
Thornicroft, A., Goulden, R., Shefer, G., Rhydderch, D., Rose, D., Williams, P., … Henderson, C. (2013). Newspaper coverage of mental illness in England 2008–2011. British Journal of Psychiatry, 202(s55), s64s69. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.112.112920.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Thornton, J. A., & Wahl, O. F. (1996). Impact of a newspaper article on attitudes toward mental illness. Journal of Community Psychology, 24(1), 1725. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1520-6629(199601)24:1<17::AID-JCOP2>3.0.CO;2-0.Google Scholar
Tobitt, C. (2018). Sun remains most-read UK newsbrand as new Pamco data shows Guardian and Observer most trusted. Press Gazette. Retrieved from https://www.pressgazette.co.uk/sun-remains-most-read-uk-newsbrand-as-new-pamco-data-shows-guardian-and-observer-most-trusted/.Google Scholar
Warren, J. (2018). Network meta-analysis of antidepressants. The Lancet, 392(10152), 10101011. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(18)31797-5.Google ScholarPubMed

Pathak et al. supplementary material

Pathak et al. supplementary material

File 83 KB

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Full text views reflects PDF downloads, PDFs sent to Google Drive, Dropbox and Kindle and HTML full text views.

Total number of HTML views: 27
Total number of PDF views: 61 *
View data table for this chart

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 29th May 2020 - 6th March 2021. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

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.

Needlessly controversial: the reporting of pharmaco- and psycho-therapy for the treatment of depression in the UK media
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.

Needlessly controversial: the reporting of pharmaco- and psycho-therapy for the treatment of depression in the UK media
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.

Needlessly controversial: the reporting of pharmaco- and psycho-therapy for the treatment of depression in the UK media
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response


Your details


Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *