chapter  15
24 Pages

The Effects of Professional and Media Warnings About the Association Between Aspirin Use in Children and Reye’s Syndrome

WithStephen B. Soumerai, Dennis Ross-Degnan, Jessica Spira Kahn

In many industrialized nations, the proliferation of health technologies has coincided with increased numbers of epidemiological studies on the risk of injury resulting from medical products and services (Nelkin, 1989). Every few months, a previously unknown hazard associated with a commonly used product is reported in the scientific literature or at scientific meetings. Such reports are often followed by waves of media attention on the dangers in question, accompanied by public and scientific debate about the “correct” interpretation of these risks. As Feinstein and others (Feinstein, 1988) pointed out, all too often faulty studies purporting to show causeand-effect relations between common products and severe adverse outcomes gain widespread media attention, further scaring an already suspicious American public. Media reports tend to concentrate on rare but dramatic hazards, and often fail to report more common but serious risks, such as motor vehicle accidents (Singer & Endreny, 1987). Some have suggested that this cycle has created a public “epidemic of apprehension”—even about health technology.