How is Genetic Psychiatric Research Presented in the UK Media?

Prof Doc Thesis

Dixon, A. 2022. How is Genetic Psychiatric Research Presented in the UK Media? Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsDixon, A.
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Introduction: The history of psychiatric research has shown the dominance of the biological model which has advocated the use of genetic research to explain mental health conditions. The dominance of the biomedical model is reflected in frequency of how such research is reported in the media, such as the newspapers. Researchers have shown the use of media frames that develop hype and hope about the utility of genetic psychiatric research however it is not clear how these frames develop.
Aims: To examine what types of mental health research are reported in British newspapers? To explore what themes are used in British newspapers when reporting on mental health genetic research and how are these themes are transformed between researchers and journalists?
Method: A mixed-methods design was employed. Quantitative content analysis was used to explore the types of psychiatric research reported in a range of UK newspapers over the last five years. A discursive thematic analysis (DTA) was completed on a sample of articles and research papers concerned with psychiatric genetics. A case study of a research paper, its corresponding press release, and newspaper article is presented to examine the transformation of themes across the documents.
Results: The content analysis of UK newspapers highlighted that a majority of articles reported on research looking at environmental factors (29.4%). Genetic research was present in 5.2% of newspaper articles. The DTA found three main themes present in the reporting of research: genetic confidence, genetic optimism, and genetic caution. The case study found elements of transformation in the themes of genetic confidence and optimism.
Conclusion: These findings demonstrate that three themes are found in the reporting of genetic research into mental health conditions within the UK news. These themes present a taken-for-granted confidence regarding the heritability of mental health conditions and demonstrate optimism about the utility of this research.

PublisherUniversity of East London
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Online16 Jan 2023
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Submitted16 Sep 2022
Deposited16 Jan 2023
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