A quantitative analysis of the quality and content of the health advice in popular Australian magazines

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To examine how health advice is provided in popular magazines and the quality of that advice.


A prospective quantitative analysis of the quality of health advice provided in Australian magazines between July and December 2011 was conducted. A rating instrument was adapted from the Media Doctor Australia rating tool used to assess quality of health news reporting. Criteria included: recommends seeing a doctor; advice based on reliable evidence; advice clear and easily applied; benefits presented meaningfully; potential harms mentioned; evidence of disease mongering; availability and cost of treatments; obvious advertising; vested interest, and anecdotal evidence.


163 health advice articles were rated showing a wide variation in the quality of advice presented between magazines. Magazines with ‘health’ in the title, rated most poorly with only 36% (26/73) of these articles presenting clear and meaningful advice and 52% (38/73) giving advice based on reliable evidence.


Australian magazines, especially those with health in the title, generally presented poor quality, unreliable health advice. Teen magazine Dolly provided the highest quality advice.


Consumers need to be aware of this when making health choices.

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