MMR: more scrutiny, pleaseBMJ 2003; 326 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.326.7401.1272 (Published 05 June 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:1272
- Trevor Jackson, assistant editor (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The media love a maverick. That's one reason why a figure such as Dr Andrew Wakefield, who challenged established thinking over the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine, has received so much coverage in the British press. But although some newspapers have presented Wakefield as a popular hero, fighting scientific officialdom on behalf of parents worried about autism, nearly half of the public believes that journalists should have subjected his claims to more scrutiny before reporting them.
A study of what and how people learn about science from the media discovered that 48% of the public felt that when scientists go against the grain, as Wakefield did in suggesting a link between MMR and autism, the media should wait until other studies confirm those findings before covering them. Thirty-four per cent of the survey …