The media and statins

Impact of the media interest in side effects on the initiation and cessation of statins in the UK

Krishnan Bhaskaran (lead researcher)

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Start date: 01 April 2016 (Duration 1 year)

Dr Krishnan Bhaskaran and his team are studying whether media interest in statin side effects caused fewer patients to start taking statins, or stop taking them.

Statins are drugs used to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes. In late 2013 and early 2014, there was considerable coverage in the media about possible negative side effects of statins. Anecdotal reports suggests this media attention has negatively impacted the number of patients starting and stopping statin therapy, so you would expect to see more heart attacks, strokes and other heart and circulatory problems.

In this project, Dr Bhaskaran will use a database containing the anonymised general practice records of over 14 million people to find out if this is true. He will work out how many patients decided to start statin treatment, and how many stopped existing statin treatment, each month from December 2011 onwards. He will assess whether media interest in statins and their side effects is associated with people starting and stopping statins, and will estimate if this has could have led to more heart attacks and strokes.

This study will give an insight into how health stories in the news influence patient decisions and ultimately affect their care.

Project details

Grant amount £55,099
Grant type Project Grant
Start Date 01 April 2016
Duration 1 year
Reference PG/15/80/31781
Status Complete

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