Television's Mixed Messages: Choose the Best and Mute the Rest

Kimberly A. Schreck, Joshua E. Ramirez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Media consistently influences peoples' choices from what to buy, to the state of the social world, to treatment choices for people with mental health problems or autism. This study investigated television networks' (i.e., National Broadcasting Company, American Broadcasting Company, and Columbia Broadcasting System) representation of non-scientifically and scientifically supported treatments for autism. Transcripts (N = 312) from 2000 to 2012 were analyzed for the inclusion of autism treatment keywords and negative or positive comments about treatments. Results indicated that networks used the most keywords about applied behavior analysis (ABA), with diet therapies a close second. Trends over the 12-year span showed increased coverage of non-scientifically supported treatments. Similar positive and negative descriptive words were used for both ABA and non-scientifically supported treatments with trends decreasing over the 12 years for both positive and negative terms about ABA. The results indicate that parents continue to receive inaccurate information about effective treatments for children with autism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-264
Number of pages14
JournalBehavioral Interventions
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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