Reading: A critical Appraisal of consumer health literature in Tamil print news media in Sri Lanka

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A critical Appraisal of consumer health literature in Tamil print news media in Sri Lanka

Authors:

S. Sri Ranganathan,

University of Colombo, LK
About S.
Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine
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R. Balasubramaniam,

Ministry of Healthcare and Nutrition, LK
About R.
Medical Research Institute
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M. Thayakaran,

Ministry of Health care and Nutrition, LK
About M.
Adolescent Dental clinic, Colombo-4
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S. Thiruvarangan ,

University of Colombo, LK
About S.
Allied Health Science Unit, Faculty of Medicine
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N. Vahine

University of Colombo, LK
About N.
Medical student, Faculty of Medicine
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Abstract

Objective: This study was designed to critically appraise the consumer health literature (CHL) appearing in Tamil print news media (lay press or newspapers) in Sri Lanka

 

Methods: This cross-sectional descriptive study critically appraised the CHL appeared in National and regional Tamil newspapers published in Sri Lanka during a period of three months. We conducted a pilot study for a period of one week to identify all the Tamil newspapers published in Sri Lanka and also to determine the variables that can be used to appraise the CHL. CHL was defined as materials giving information on health related matters. Health advertisements and information on cosmetics were excluded. Two investigators independently went through all the target newspapers to identify and separate the CHL. Subsequently, using a pre-tested checklist, two investigators independently appraised the CHL. In case of major disagreement between the two investigators, decision was made by consensus.

 

Results: There were 633 CHL in 600 newspapers: Common topics included non-communicable diseases (25%), reproductive health (13%) and food habits (12. 6%). Topics related to National public health campaigns, official health promotion messages, communicable diseases, medicines, vaccines, tobacco and alcohol were very minimal. Names and designation of the author/source was available only in 37.6%: Specialists, doctors, medical academics and medical students have authored the majority (79%). 591 CHL had some form of pictures, but in 70%, the pictures were assessed to be irrelevant to the subject matter. Two-thirds were on very socially valuable topics whereas content was appraised to be of poor scientific merit and unreliable in 54%.

 

Conclusions: Tamil newspapers are underutilized in disseminating important health messages to public and there is an urgent need to nurture medical journalism in Sri Lanka.

How to Cite: Sri Ranganathan S, Balasubramaniam R, Thayakaran M, Thiruvarangan S, Vahine N. A critical Appraisal of consumer health literature in Tamil print news media in Sri Lanka. Jaffna Medical Journal. 2019;31(2):14–20. DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/jmj.v31i2.74
Published on 30 Dec 2019.
Peer Reviewed

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