Study Finds Media Lacks Accuracy When Writing Hair Loss Articles

One of Belgravia experts' pet peeves - the media's frequent mis-reporting of, or providing inaccurate information regarding hair loss conditions - has also irked researchers in Korea.

A team from Inje University Busan Paik Hospital's Department of Dermatology at the Inje University College of Medicine in Busan has published a report on the subject in the Annals of Dermatology medical journal.

Man receding hairline widows peak men's hair newspaper reading information tube londonLow accuracy scores for media reports on hair loss

The Inje University dermatologists noticed that, as more people become interested in reading about hair loss, they are increasingly obtaining their information from the media, rather than from doctors or hair specialists. Therefore, it is obviously crucial that the media is accurate in its reporting, given its effect on public opinion, however, this is not always the case.

In order to investigate just how prevalent mis-reporting of hair loss problems is, the team studied a range of print and online newspapers to assess the content and reliability of their alopecia-related articles.

It is important to note here that the word 'alopecia' simply means 'hair loss'; it is not the name of a specific hair loss condition, though is often used as shorthand for the autoimmune disorder Alopecia Areata. As regular readers of Belgravia's hair loss blog will know, in our experience misuse of this term - 'alopecia' - is a common occurrence in media articles regardless of the type of hairloss being discussed, and is often a source of confusion for its audience - and this is precisely what the Korean team discovered.

After studying articles on alopecia from the past three years, taken from the 'most frequently subscribed or circulated newspaper in each group' - one group being newspapers from print and online publishers, the other being online-only publications - the authors came to the following conclusion...

Woman reading news newspaper information cafe coffee"Most articles in each group used the general term “alopecia” instead of naming a specific hair loss disease. The majority of articles were based on consultation with experts. Assessment of the accuracy of articles with three grade scales showed that the percentage with high accuracy was 38.9%, 47.2%, and 23.3%. Assessment of reliability scores for five selected articles in each group showed that there were statistically significant differences between common readers and dermatologists (p<0.05)."

Closer monitoring of media reporting required

With their findings reporting such low levels of reliability of information about hair loss, particularly among readers from the general public who these articles are aimed at, it is perhaps unsurprising that the researchers called for "closer monitoring of the media"  in order to "supply easily accessible, balanced, and trustworthy information regarding alopecia".

Belgravia Centre hair specialists are often contacted by members of the press who are researching articles regarding all manner of issues, from Male Pattern Baldness and Female Pattern Hair Loss to Postpartum Alopecia. Whilst this is generally to provide expert quotes about hair loss for their pieces, whether this is regarding specific conditions, hair growth treatments or prevention, sometimes it is also for the journalist's own information purposes, so they feel better informed about the subject they are covering.

This is an approach we very much welcome and are happy to help with wherever possible, in order to reduce the misinformation surrounding such an emotional subject.

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The Belgravia Centre

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