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Eur J Public Health. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2012 November 13.
Published in final edited form as:
PMCID: PMC3496778
CAMSID: CAMS2440

Media and politics: Empirical data on their cross-influence in health policy

Abstract

Objectives

Despite the central influence of public policies on health and welfare, relatively little is known about actual health care policy-making processes. This presentation will offer preliminary results from a federally funded project aimed at gaining insights into the interrelations among interest-group strategies, media discourses and political debates in health care. The policy debate on health care privatization in Quebec is used as a case study.

Approach

Two sources of data were used: media sources and political debates. Media sources were the six main provincial newspapers in Quebec, two national newspapers and The Canadian Press, as well as transcripts from specific news-related programs of three national television stations and two national radio stations. Political debates were obtained through transcripts of all question periods in the Parliament and debates in the standing committee on health. Sources were systematically searched to identify all relevant data. Multiple search syntaxes were developed and tested to maximize sensitivity and specificity. All data was entered and coded into qualitative analysis software.

Results

Data was analyzed longitudinally from June 2005 to January 1, 2010. Four levels of results will be presented: 1) Descriptive analysis of the interest groups involved, their policy preferences and the rhetoric they employed to support their views. 2) Descriptive analysis of the main policy proposals that structured the debate as well as of the coalition of groups behind those proposals. 3) Graphic longitudinal analysis of the intensity of the debate and of the relative importance and evolution of various policy proposals. 4) Preliminary results on the nature, direction and level of inter-influence between the policy and media agendas.

Conclusion

This presentation provides empirical evidence on current policy-making processes in health care. It shows, unsurprisingly, that policy-making is a circumvoluted process of inter-influence among interest groups, politicians and the media. It also highlights the fact that scientific evidence actually plays a minor (if any) role in policy processes.