Potential of UK and US newspapers for shaping patients' knowledge and perceptions about antidiabetic medicines: a content analysis

Nadia Farhanah Syafhan, Gaoyun Chen, Carole Parsons, James C. McElnay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Information about how newspapers portray antidiabetic medicines to readers is lacking. This study investigated the reporting on antidiabetic medicines in the most widely circulated newspapers published in the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States (US) over a 10-year period. Methods: The Nexis UK database was used to identify and select relevant articles. Systematic content analysis of the articles which met the inclusion criteria (articles of any format that contained reference to antidiabetic medicines) within the highest circulated newspapers in the UK and US between 2009 and 2018 was conducted. Inter-rater reliability of coding was established using a 10% sample of the identified articles. Results: A total of 560 (369 UK and 191 US) relevant newspaper articles were retrieved. In the UK, the number of relevant articles showed a slightly increasing trend over the study period, while in the US, article numbers declined over the study period. Safety/risk of antidiabetic medicines was the most frequent theme covered by the articles (34.6%). Over one-third of the newspaper articles were written from a clinical perspective (37.7%). Insulin was the most commonly discussed class of antidiabetic medicine (23.1%). Control of blood sugar levels (53.1%) and side effects/toxicity (92.7%) were the most frequently reported benefit and risk of antidiabetic medicines, respectively. The most frequently reported organ systems harmed by antidiabetic medicines were the cardiovascular, endocrine and gastrointestinal systems. The UK newspapers were more likely to report the benefits of antidiabetic medicines (p = 0.005), while the US articles were more likely to report on harms/risks (p = 0.001). The majority of relevant articles (91.8%) were judged as having a balanced judgement, while 8.2% of the articles were rated as exaggerated. Conclusions: This study has revealed that antidiabetic medicines are indeed reported on by UK and US newspapers. As media portrayal has the potential to negatively or positively influence patients’ views of their medication for diabetes, healthcare professionals should check on patients’ beliefs and knowledge about their medication and proactively provide objective and balanced information (including promotion of medication adherence).

Original languageEnglish
Article number64
JournalJournal of Pharmaceutical Policy and Practice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


  • Antidiabetic medicines
  • Newspaper coverage
  • Newspaper portrayal


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