Abstract: WITHDRAWN: ADHD, the Media and Conflicts of Interest: An Investigative Study (Society for Social Work and Research 23rd Annual Conference - Ending Gender Based, Family and Community Violence)

383P WITHDRAWN: ADHD, the Media and Conflicts of Interest: An Investigative Study

Friday, January 18, 2019
Continental Parlors 1-3, Ballroom Level (Hilton San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Melissa Murphy, MSW, Research Assistant, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL
Background and Purpose: There are growing concerns regarding the effects of pharmaceutical companies and media coverage on the proliferation of ADHD diagnoses and medication use for adults and children. Previous research has highlighted the relationship between the political economy of the media and ADHD messages through conflicts of interest between media corporations, physicians and pharmaceutical companies. Despite these concerns, little to no empirical research has been conducted.

Method: This study employed a qualitative methodology, including content analysis and textual analysis, to analyze articles obtained from the New York Times, the most frequently circulated newspaper, addressing ADHD diagnosis, treatment and medications. Articles were obtained utilizing Factiva database.  

Results: Of the 100 articles initially retrieved, 46 articles met the inclusion criteria for analysis. Results indicated that nearly one third of New York Times articles contained conflicts of interest with interviewed ADHD expert sources having ties to pharmaceutical companies that were largely not reported by the newspaper. No conflicts of interest between Times board members/executives were identified with pharmaceutical companies. Major coded themes in the sample of Times ADHD articles included diagnostic information, medication safety and efficacy, college related ADHD concerns, alternative treatment and critical coverage of diagnostic and medication inflation.

Conclusions and Implications: Results indicated that the New York Times engages in diverse and critical coverage of ADHD. However, there is little evidence to suggest that physician expert sources with ties to pharmaceutical companies, interviewed by the Times, were reported as conflicts of interest to the public. Since previous research has indicated that individuals are primarily obtaining information about mental disorders online, including mental health professionals, research on knowledge dissemination is of utmost importance to the field. Moreover, more research should be conducted with additional newspapers and articles in order to draw inferences and generalizations from these results.