Media portrayal of herbal remedies versus pharmaceutical clinical trials: Impacts on decision

T. Bubela, M. Koper, H. Boon, T. Caulfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


The use of Complementary and Alternative Medicines (CAM) in Europe and North America is increasing significantly with a concomitant growth in business interest. Users are educated and self-empowered and rely on information sources beyond mainstream medical practitioners. Not surprisingly, media coverage, much of dubious quality, has increased to meet demand for information. Here we present data from a study that explores how knowledge is translated in the socioeconomic-political context of CAM as compared to conventional pharmaceuticals. Specifically, we are interested in the nature of the information provided by clinical trials and the media and how this might impact decision-making regarding the use of CAM versus conventional pharmaceuticals and the reporting of conflicts of interest and industry funding of research. Our results suggest that, in the media, there were significant errors of ornission in describing clinical trial quality and a serious under-reporting of risks of herbal remedies. Consumers, who often self-administer CAM are not being provided with information sufficient to make informed choices about treatment alternatives. The next step in the research is to determine whether these reporting dynamics in describing CAM clinical trials differ from those of reporting on pharmaceutical clinical trials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)363-373
Number of pages11
JournalMedicine and Law
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Clinical trial
  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Conflict of interest
  • Knowledge translation
  • Media coverage
  • Natural health product regulation
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Research funding
  • Risk


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