U.S. news media coverage of solutions to the opioid crisis, 2013–2017

Emma E. McGinty, Elizabeth M. Stone, A. Kennedy-Hendricks, Kaylynn Sanders, A. Beacham, Colleen L. Barry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


News media coverage of the U.S. opioid epidemic influences Americans' knowledge of and preferences for solutions to address the crisis. From 1998 to 2012, news media coverage of the opioid epidemic focused on criminal justice-oriented solutions. We examine whether and how news coverage of solutions has shifted in the recent years of the crisis. We analyzed a random sample of 600 U.S. news stories published/aired by high circulation/viewership national and local print and television news outlets from 2013 to 2017. We examined the proportion of news stories mentioning treatment, harm reduction, prevention, criminal justice, opioid prescribing, pharmaceutical manufacturer, insurer, and other solutions. News stories were coded using a structured coding instrument, and 200 news stories were double-coded to ensure interrater reliability. Data were collected and analyzed in 2018. Treatment (mentioned in 33% of news stories), harm reduction (30%), and prevention (24%) solutions were the most frequently mentioned types of solutions. Several evidence-based public health solutions received little news coverage: medication treatment for opioid use disorder was mentioned in 9% of news stories and the harm reduction solutions syringe services programs and safe consumption sites were mentioned in 5% and 2% of news stories. While news coverage showed a promising emphasis on public health-oriented solutions, efforts to increase news coverage of examples of effective opioid use disorder treatment and harm reduction solutions are needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105771
JournalPreventive Medicine
StatePublished - Sep 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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