Nurses play critical roles in health care. Why are they invisible in a media?

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urses have done critical contributions to health and health caring for generations and are essential players today. Nurses outnumber doctors by roughly 3 to 1. So because are nurses blank in movement when it comes to health news stories?

A landmark study conducted in 1997 embellished a gloomy design of nurses and nursing in a media. The pretension of a report, “The Woodhull Study on Nursing and a Media: Health Care’s Invisible Partner,” says it all. The investigate was a brainchild of Nancy Woodhull, first editor of USA Today,who died of lung cancer before a investigate was completed. She was struck by a counterbalance between a glorious nursing caring she perceived and her regard of a minimal coverage of nurses and nursing in a media.

A operative organisation of scarcely 20 researchers analyzed health news articles published in a heading imitation newspapers, weeklies, and trade publications of a day for a month of Sep 1997. The formula reliable what Woodhull suspected: Nurses were mostly absent in media coverage of health issues. Just 4 percent of quotes in newspapers and 1 percent in weekly and courtesy publications were attributed to nurses. They were roughly never enclosed in photos that accompanied a news articles. And nurses were mentioned in usually 14 percent of a articles.

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Fast brazen 20 years. An updated Woodhull report suggested that small swell has been made. This news looked during health news stories published in Sep 2017 that seemed in a same sources used in a strange study. Quotes were attributed to nurses usually 2 percent of a time, they were identified in 4 percent of a images, and were mentioned in 13 percent of a articles. Nurses were unconditionally absent in many stories in a illustration notwithstanding a aptitude of a nursing viewpoint to a topic. Nurses were many invisible in stories about policy, a business of health care, and research.

The commentary of a second Woodhull investigate showed vital gender differences. Men were quoted roughly twice as mostly in a health news stories sampled compared to women (65 percent compared to 34 percent), and images of group outnumbered those of women 72 percent to 28 percent.

These commentary are unchanging with a formula of other studies, that together uncover that many conversations in a open globe are relate chambers with a same slight operation of white masculine voices dominating. It is tough to omit a relations deficiency of nurses and a fact that 90 percent of nurses are female.

Here’s a non-nursing example: In a new commentary on a deficiency of women in media discussions about chief weapons policy, Alexandra Bell and Kelsey Davenport coined a tenure “marticle” (man article) to news a majority of articles on chief weapons process that underline usually masculine sources notwithstanding a flourishing inflection of women negotiating chief agreements, regulating chief laboratories, and a woman winning a Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to annul chief weapons.

To improved know because there was radically no change in a illustration of nurses in a media between 1997 and 2017, a Woodhull 2 group interviewed 10 health journalists. They suggested that they and their newsrooms intermittently reached out to women, nurses, and people who were not in positions of management in a health industry. Some pronounced they had to clear to their editors regulating a helper as a source. Others were confused about what nurses indeed do. Several of a interviewed reporters who did use nurses for a story remarkable that a helper viewpoint enriched a story.

The summary was shrill and clear: Nurses are not noticed as experts or as pivotal leaders, and so are not good sources. The miss of nursing illustration in a media is partial of habitual gender disparities in a media.

In a other direction, contacts during health caring organizations, educational institutions, and nursing associations do not foster nurses as subjects for stories on health and health caring or sources for them.

Nurses make adult a largest shred of a health caring workforce and have a closest and many postulated vicinity to patients. In Gallup polls, they are regularly voted to be a many devoted profession. Over a years, nurses have helped urge entrance to care; blazed new paths in telehealth, informatics, record development, and genomics; worked to revoke medical errors and urge studious safety; promoted wellness and stretched surety care; intent in investigate with unsentimental applications and impact; and more. In short, nurses have helped renovate a smoothness of health caring to accommodate a hurdles of a graying and increasingly different population.

Yet their prominence in a media and change in policymaking are not co-ordinate with their numbers, position, and expertise. Journalists owe it to their readers to compensate courtesy to a farrago of their sources. Increasing a farrago of sources to improved simulate a interests and perspectives of media consumers enhances a value of content.


There are many things that nurses, a institutions in that they work, and their veteran associations can do to be vital about enchanting journalists. For starters, they need to respond some-more discerning to reporter’s questions, something a Woodhull 2 news showed was a problem. Reporters operative on deadlines need information fast, and are discerning to pierce on to other sources, mostly masculine non-nurses. Reporters and other people seeking information frequently overuse a many manifest “experts.” Nurses and their supporters can assistance enlarge their clarification of consultant and enhance a pool by transcending their privacy to mount adult as experts and leaders.

Nurses need to explain their veteran authority, expertise, and practice and proactively rivet with a media. Standing adult and station out can make we a target. This has never deterred nurses in doing what they had to do to urge health and health care. It shouldn’t in a media, either.

Carole R. Myers, R.N., is a comparison associate with a George Washington University Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement and an associate highbrow during a University of Tennessee College of Nursing and Department of Public Health.

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