July 21, 2020

Epilepsy Through the Eyes of the Media

Abstract, published in Epilepsy & Behavior

Objective: Media coverage of disorders and medical advancements can impact public perception regarding the riskiness, effectiveness, and accessibility of treatment options. We studied that coverage for epilepsy with a focus on surgical interventions and emerging neurotechnologies.

Methods: Epilepsy-related English language articles published through 2019 were retrieved from online International news media with a circulation of 80,000 or above.

Results: Overall, out of the 146 unique articles identified, there was a steady increase in epilepsy reporting over time, with most articles published with a positive tone. Neuromodulation, including vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) and deep-brain stimulation (DBS) was the focus of over 50% of all the articles. Resective neurosurgery was the focus in 34% of adult articles. Access, support, and epilepsy literacy were the central themes in the context of ethical, legal, and social issues.

Significance: News media can influence the trust that the public places in science and medicine, and by extension, influences health policy. As innovations in neurotechnology for epilepsy emerge, understanding of individual and societal values is essential to their beneficial evolution and translation to care.

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