Nurses in Media: Leveraging our Respected Voices and Experience

The Woodhull Study Revisited: Nurses’ Representation in Health News Media

Underrepresentation of nurses in health care coverage continues to be a concern BY DIANA MASON AND BARBARA GLICKSTEIN

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In 2014, the Ebola outbreak was storming through West Africa and found its way to the United States via four patients medically evacuated to the United States for treatment. Then, Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian man visiting family in Texas, showed early symptoms of Ebola. Initially misdiagnosed before more severe symptoms developed, Duncan then was hospitalized and eventually died at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. Nina Phan, a nurse who cared for Duncan, made headlines when she was diagnosed with Ebola herself.

Unless the story focused on health care workers’ potential exposure and protective equipment, American journalists rarely included nurses in their stories about Ebola before Phan came down with the disease. After that, journalists could not get enough interviews with nurses and representatives of nursing organizations. When the Ebola story receded from the headlines, press inquiries stopped. Diana Mason, a co-author of this blog, was president of the American Academy of Nursing at that time and saw the difference in media requests for interviews.

The underrepresentation of nurses in health news didn’t just occur during Ebola crises. We recently reported on the high-level preliminary findings of two phases of a study, “The Woodhull Study Revisited: Nurses Representation in Health News Stories,” about how often nurses are represented in health news stories They have significant implications for health journalists who are not diversifying their sources. While the study focuses on nurses, the findings also apply to health professionals other than physicians.

The findings were presented at a May 8 press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

To read the “rest of the story”, click here: Underrepresentation of nurses in health care coverage continues to be a concern BY DIANA MASON AND BARBARA GLICKSTEIN


Diana Mason (@djmasonrn) is a registered nurse and senior policy service professor at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University School of Nursing; and former editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Nursing. Barbara Glickstein (@BGlickstein) is a registered nurse, public health nurse, and director of communications and media projects for the center. They have been producers and hosts of radio programs on health and health policy for community radio stations and are members of AHCJ.