Portrayal of Autism Spectrum Disorder and related treatments in Qatar's printed media
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Public cultivates perceptions and beliefs through mass media. Although considerable progress in the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has emerged over the last decade, negative media stereotypes about ASD and its treatments are amongst the most hurtful and socially limiting stigma experiences reported by mental health service consumers and family members. The objectives of this study were to explore the portrayal of ASD and its treatments through a content analysis of the daily Qatari newspapers. A total of 178 ASD-related articles were found in 1 year of newspaper coverage. The majority of the articles reported on general news or event, rather than on the scientific or social aspects of ASD. The discourse analysis revealed significantly more stigmatizing statements in articles in Arabic compared to those in English newspapers. Most of the treatments discussed in the print media had insufficient or lacked scientific evidence. Qatar has recently implemented the "National Autism Strategy", which aims for the inclusion of ASD in society. Collaborative efforts with the media will be necessary to achieve this aim.