Behind the Headlines policy and process

About Behind the Headlines

Behind the Headlines provides an unbiased and evidence-based analysis of health stories that make the news.

Each day the NHS website team selects health stories from English newspapers and media outlets. However, the service covers international media when appropriate.

Appropriate story selection

One or more news stories are selected for analysis each day.

The stories are selected based on the level or significance of news coverage they receive, and the availability of the source material behind it. Editorial discretion is used to select stories that are judged to be of public interest.

News stories tend to fall into one of the following categories:

  • health alerts or scares, where risks of a health condition are raised in the media
  • explanation of a scientific advance, such as lab research, genetic studies, or the - development of a new drug or procedure
  • promotion of lifestyle change, where claims are made about the benefits of a particular diet or activity
  • changes to evidence or official guidelines, such as new NICE guidelines, Department of Health and Social Care recommendations, or alerts from the MHRA

Researching the sources

The Behind the Headlines team searches for the scientific paper or background source material that relates to the media news story.

Behind the Headlines can be based on media reports that are not based on a published journal paper, in which cases the analyses are based on conference proceedings, press releases or other material.

For Q&A stories, the questions that form the basis of the article are drafted according to how the story has been portrayed in the media, the original source material, and background information.

Writing and clinical sign off by Bazian

Media links and scientific research and other background or source articles are sent to Bazian, a leading provider of evidence-based healthcare information.

Bazian's clinicians and scientists analyse the research and produce an impartial, evidence-based appraisal or the response to the posed questions.

The article is then clinically signed off and returned to NHS website team.

Editing Behind the Headlines

The NHS website team edits the article for readability, house style (PDF, 458kb), and an assessment of whether the analysis addresses how the story has been portrayed in the media and whether it gives sufficient response.

Should the article be considered to require a libel check, it is sent for professional legal advice.

The article is then returned to Bazian for a final clinical sign off.

Final editorial checks and publishing

Final editorial checks take place and the article is published on the site. This process is detailed in Phase 4 of the Editorial content processes (PDF, 2Mb).

Behind the Headlines content is correct at the date of publication and is not subject to review.

Page last reviewed: 04/12/2015
Next review due: 04/12/2018