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The Quality of Health Research Reporting by the Daily Newspapers in Trinidad and Tobago

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302–7

ABSTRACT

In this study, the authors examined the scientific quality of health research reported in the three daily newspapers in Trinidad and Tobago. All medical research articles published for the period January 1 to December 31, 2003, were extracted using a standardized data collection form. The scientific quality of the articles was analyzed by taking into consideration various aspects of study design, as well as other issues associated with accurate reporting. Of the 321 eligible articles, 108 were collected from The Trinidad Express, 100 from The Trinidad Guardian and 113 from The Trinidad and Tobago Newsday. The percentages of articles reporting methodological components consistent with good scientific quality were as follows: objective(s) (99.7%), study design (79.8%), study procedure (70.1%), selection procedure (70.1%), description of participants (87.5%), control/matching group (74.9%), outcome variables (99.4%) and issues of validity and reliability (2.5%). In addition, the percentage of articles containing aspects of good report writing were as follows: authorship (71.3%), authors’affiliation (59.5%), location of the study (25.4%), source of the research material (83.1%), duration of the study (27.7%), study setting (72.0%), number of participants (74.1%), period in which the study was conducted (12.0%) and quantification of the results (66.7%). Observational studies were significantly more likely to be reported than experimental studies (71.5% versus 28.5%). Overall, articles reported in the Trinidad Express and the Trinidad and Tobago Newsday were of a better scientific quality than those in the Trinidad Guardian. These findings suggest a need to improve the overall scientific quality of reported health research in these newspapers by ensuring that reports answer the fundamental questions of what, why, who, where, when and how. This might be achieved by adopting a structured reporting format similar to that used by many peer-reviewed journals.

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e-Published: 06 Jun, 2013
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