Reporting of MMR evidence in professional publications: 1988-2007

Hilton, S; Hunt, K; Langan, M; Hamilton, V; Petticrew, M; (2009) Reporting of MMR evidence in professional publications: 1988-2007. Archives of disease in childhood, 94 (11). pp. 831-833. ISSN 0003-9888 DOI:

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Objective: To examine how journals and magazines disseminate research evidence and guidance on best practice to health professionals by aligning commentaries on measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine (MMR) evidence in journals with key events in the MMR controversy. Design: Content analysis. Data sources: Comment articles in six commonly read UK publications. Main outcome measures: Number of comment pieces by publication, year and article type; trends in the focus, tone and inclusion of recommendations on MMR. Results: 860 articles met the inclusion criteria (BMJ n=104, Community Practitioner n=45, Health Visitor n=24, Practice Nurse n=61, Nursing Standard n=61 and Pulse n=565). Of these 860 comment pieces, 264 made some reference to evidence endorsing the safety of MMR. Around one in 10 were rated as negative (10.9%, n=29) or neutral (11.3%, n=30) in relation to MMR safety, and nearly a quarter (22.7%, n=60) were rated as mixed. Following the publication of Wakefield et al's 1998 paper there was a period of neutrality. In 2000, despite growing public concerns and widespread media coverage, fewer than 20 comment pieces were published. Less than a quarter of comment pieces (n=196, 22.7%) included recommendations. Conclusion: While a period of neutrality may reflect a professional response to uncertainty by holding back until consensus emerges, it may also represent a missed opportunity to promote evidence-based practice.

Item Type: Article
Faculty and Department: Faculty of Public Health and Policy > Dept of Social and Environmental Health Research
Research Centre: Centre for Global Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs)
PubMed ID: 19414434
Web of Science ID: 271194000004


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