The re-emergence of psychiatric neurosurgery: insights from a cross-national study of newspaper and magazine coverage

Laura Y. Cabrera, Merlin Bittlinger, Hayami Lou, Sabine Müller, Judy Illes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Surgical approaches to treat psychiatric disorders have made a comeback. News media plays an essential role in exposing the public to trends in health care such as the re-emergence of therapeutic interventions in psychiatric neurosurgery that were set aside for decades, and in shaping attitudes and acceptance to them. Method: We conducted an analysis of media articles covering all types of psychiatric neurosurgery published in Canada, USA, Germany, and Spain between the years 1960 and 2015. We applied both quantitative and qualitative methods to elucidate patterns of reporting for conditions, themes and tone, across geographic regions, time, and for type of intervention. Results: Coverage of psychiatric neurosurgery has surged since 2001 and is largely consistent across the countries examined. It focuses on depression and deep brain stimulation, and is explicit about historical context. The tone of coverage becomes more positive for Canada, USA and Spain over time; the tone of coverage from Germany remains cautious. Identity and privacy are among the few ethical and philosophical issues raised, notably in the German press. Conclusions: The focused and optimistic attention to contemporary psychiatric neurosurgery in the media, but inattention to ethical issues, places an extra burden on functional neurosurgeons, psychiatrists, and other frontline health professionals to attend to queries from patients and policy makers about the full range of relevant emergent and emerging interventions and the mental health issues to which they may beneficially apply.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)625-635
Number of pages11
JournalActa Neurochirurgica
Volume160
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology

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