Application of real-time global media monitoring and ‘derived questions’ for enhancing communication by regulatory bodies: the case of human papillomavirus vaccines

Priya Bahri (Lead / Corresponding author), Julianna Fogd, Daniel Morales, Xavier Kurz

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    Background: The benefit-risk balance of vaccines is regularly debated by the public, but the utility of media monitoring for regulatory bodies is unclear. A media monitoring study was conducted at the European Medicines Agency (EMA) concerning human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines during a European Union (EU) referral procedure assessing the potential causality of complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) and postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) reported to the authorities as suspected adverse reactions.

    Methods: To evaluate the utility of media monitoring in real life, prospective real-time monitoring of worldwide online news was conducted from September to December 2015 with inductive content analysis, generating ‘derived questions’. The evaluation was performed through the validation of the predictive capacity of these questions against journalists’ queries, review of the EMA’s public statement and feedback from EU regulators.

    Results: A total of 4230 news items were identified, containing personal stories, scientific and policy/process-related topics. Explicit and implicit concerns were identified, including those raised due to lack of knowledge or anticipated once more information would be published. Fifty derived questions were generated and categorised into 12 themes. The evaluation demonstrated that providing the media monitoring findings to assessors and communicators resulted in (1) confirming that public concerns regarding CRPS and POTS would be covered by the assessment; (2) meeting specific information needs proactively in the public statement; (3) predicting all queries from journalists; and (4) altering the tone of the public statement with respectful acknowledgement of the health status of patients with CRSP or POTS.

    Conclusions: The study demonstrated the potential utility of media monitoring for regulatory bodies to support communication proactivity and preparedness, intended to support trusted safe and effective vaccine use. Derived questions seem to be a familiar and effective format for presenting media monitoring results in the scientific-regulatory environment. It is suggested that media monitoring could form part of regular surveillance for medicines of high public interest. Future work is recommended to develop efficient monitoring strategies for that purpose.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number91
    Pages (from-to)1-13
    Number of pages13
    JournalBMC Medicine
    Publication statusPublished - 2 May 2017


    • HPV vaccines
    • Vaccines
    • Medicines
    • Media monitoring
    • Communication
    • Regulatory bodies
    • EMA


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