Promoting the quality of health research-based news: Introduction of a tool

Mahnaz Ashoorkhani, Reza Majdzadeh, Saharnaz Nedjat, Jaleh Gholami


Background: While disseminating health research findings to the public, it is very important to present appropriate and accurate information to give the target audience a correct understanding of the subject matter. The objective of this study was to design and psychometrically evaluate a checklist for health journalists to help them prepare news of appropriate accuracy and authenticity. 

Methods: The study consisted of two phases, checklist design and psychometrics. Literature review and expert opinion were used to extract the items of the checklist in the first phase. In the second phase, to assess content and face validity, the judgment of 38 persons (epidemiologists with a tool production history, editors-in-chief, and health journalists) was used to check the items' understandability, nonambiguity, relevancy, and clarity. Reliability was assessed by the test–retest method using intra-cluster correlation (ICC) indices in the two phases. Cronbach's alpha was used to assess internal validity of the checklist. 

Results: Based on the participants' opinions, the items were reduced from 20 to 14 in number. The items were categorized into the following three domains: (a) items assessing the source of news and its validity, (b) items addressing the presentation of complete and accurate information on research findings, and (c) items which if adhered to lead to the target audiences' better understanding. The checklist was approved for content and face validity. The reliability of the checklist was assessed in the last stage; the ICC was 1 for 12 items and above 0.8 for the other two. Internal consistency (Cronbach's alpha) was 0.98. 

Conclusions: The resultant indices of the study indicate that the checklist has appropriate validity and reliability. Hence, it can be used by health journalists to develop health research-based news.

Keywords: Checklist, health news, medical journalism, reliability, validity

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