The purpose of this study is to systematically analyze and describe the tone of media coverage of the nursing home sector and its relationship to other dimensions of the coverage reported. Through a search of the LexisNexis database, 16,280 articles were identified from 51 U.S. newspapers from 1999 to 2008. Articles were analyzed for tone, themes, prominence, central actor, and issue jurisdiction. Multinomial logit was used to examine the correlates of tone. Most articles were negative (36.9 percent) or neutral (45.5 percent) in tone; very few were positive (12.6 percent) or mixed (5.0 percent). Differences in tone were noted with regard to article placement and content. Findings highlight the preponderance of negative coverage and suggest that its adverse influence on public attitudes toward nursing homes may be enhanced by its prominence and focus on state/local concerns and industry interests/behavior. Future research should examine the relationship between media coverage and government agendas and outcomes related to nursing homes.
The tone of nursing home portrayal in 51 newspapers in the United States