Background Media reports may influence criminal behavior that leads to violence against doctors. Little is known about the characteristics of media reports on patient violence against their doctors.
Methods Based on the international and domestic guidelines for media reports, we developed a checklist to assess adherence of Chinese media reports to recommended principles. We adopted a seed approach to search influential violence stories. Reports were assessed using the unified coding scheme by different coders; the conflicts between raters were resolved through discussion.
Results In total, 17,222 media reports were captured; 788 met inclusion criteria. 49.5% and 52.7% of 788 included reports mentioned real and complete names of writer and editor, respectively. of 329 reports including quotes or opinions from doctors, patients, and hospital administrative personnel, only 15.79%, 11.25% and 18.62% respectively specified they had obtained the consent of the interviewees. 21.6% of reports including all specifically-coded details of the violent acts against doctors (time, place, methods and perpetrators), and 43.5% of reports included some details. Only 18.7% of media reports offered suggestions for seeking professional help in case doctors are threatened by violence and 11.3% offered contact information for third parties who mediate doctor-patient conflicts.
Conclusion Most internet-based media reports did not strictly follow media recommendations from authoritative bodies. Strong efforts are needed to require journalists to increase adherence so risk of violence against doctors is reduced in China.
Learning Outcomes Most Chinese internet-based media sources did not appropriately report stories concerning violence against doctors.