Improper, unprofessional, or misleading media reports about violence against medical care providers (typically doctors and nurses) may provoke copycat incidents. To examine whether media reports about violence against medical care providers in China follow professional journalism recommendations, we identified 10 influential incidents of violence against medical care providers in China through a systematic strategy and used standardized internet-based search techniques to retrieve media reports about these events from 2007–2017. Reports were evaluated independently by trained coders to assess adherence to professional journalism recommendations using a 14-item checklist. In total, 788 eligible media reports were considered. Of those, 50.5% and 47.3%, respectively, failed to mention the real and complete names of the writer and editor. Reports improperly mentioned specific details about the time, place, methods, and perpetrators of violence in 42.1%, 36.4%, 45.4%, and 54.6% of cases, respectively. Over 80% of reports excluded a suggestion to seek help from professional agencies or mediation by a third party and only 3.8% of reports mentioned the perspectives of all three key informants about an event: medical care providers, patients, and hospital administrators. Of those that mentioned medical care providers, patient, and/or hospital administrator perspectives, less than 20% indicated they had obtained the interviewee’s consent to include their perspective. We concluded that most reports about violence against medical care providers in the Chinese media failed to strictly follow reporting recommendations from authoritative media bodies. Efforts are recommended to improve adherence to professional guidelines in media reports about violence against medical care providers in China, as adherence to those guidelines is likely to reduce future violent events against medical care providers like doctors and nurses.
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