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Tragedy or over-achievement: a media analysis of spinal cord injury in Australia

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journal contribution
posted on 27.07.2021, 23:48 by Leanne ReesLeanne Rees, Merryn SherwoodMerryn Sherwood, Nora ShieldsNora Shields
Spinal cord injury has evolved from a condition not to be treated, to one that is treated and rehabilitated. People with spinal cord injury now live longer active lives; however, barriers to participation such as attitudes and misunderstandings of spinal cord injury still exist. Acknowledging that media can shape attitudes and understanding of disability, primary aim of this study was to explore how spinal cord injury has been framed in Australian media through a newspaper content analysis. A secondary aim was to understand how framing changed overtime. Findings show consistent traditional news frames, with emphasis on disability and hardship. Progressive framing emerged in later years. Thematic analysis revealed two contrasting narratives tragedy and over-achievement, and a third financial burden. Traumatic spinal cord injury was most reported. This coverage, and exclusion of stories in between, has potential implications towards attitudes and understanding of spinal cord injury, and the lived experience.


Publication Date



Media International Australia

Article Number

ARTN 1329878X20938062







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