Changes in newspaper coverage of cardiovascular health issues in conjunction with a community-based intervention.
Numerous community-based prevention projects, with significant media components, have been conducted over the past decade. Multiple evaluation strategies have been used to document the effectiveness of these interventions, including intermediate measures of community impact such as assessment of media coverage. As part of the evaluation of a community-based intervention (the Bootheel Heart Health Project), dissemination of information on cardiovascular disease (CVD) was measured through a media content analysis of newspapers. Data were analyzed from 23 newspapers in six rural counties in southeastern Missouri for the period October 1988 through August 1993. An increase was observed in CVD-related coverage in the pre-intervention period (mean articles per month = 31.5) compared with the post-intervention period (mean articles per month = 50.7) (F = 10.2; P = 0.003). In supporting data from a separate randomized risk factor survey of 1510 residents in the same area, respondents reported hearing of heart health coalitions primarily through local newspapers. The current study documents increasing print media coverage of cardiovascular health issues in a high-risk, rural area and shows that media content analysis can be a useful evaluation tool in community-based interventions. (+info)
Assessing the quality of newspaper medical advice columns for elderly readers.
BACKGROUND: Medical advice columns in newspapers can provide a valuable service by educating the general public about important health-related issues. However, these columns may be harmful if the advice or information given in them is incomplete, inappropriate or misleading. The objective of this study was to assess the safety and appropriateness of advice given to elderly readers of newspapers in medical advice columns. METHODS: Medical advice columns published in Canadian newspapers in 1995 were identified from a CD-ROM database. The articles that were selected were published in English and contained medical advice pertinent to elderly people about topics that could be found in a textbook of geriatric medicine. Fifty articles, randomly selected from the 109 articles that met these criteria, were independently assessed by 5 geriatricians. A scoring system was used to rate the ability to determine to which population the article applied, how well fact was distinguished from opinion, the degree to which critical issues were addressed, the safety and the appropriateness of the advice. When the kappa statistic for inter-rater agreement was 0.74 or less, a 2-stage Delphi process was used in an attempt to reach consensus. RESULTS: Agreement (kappa > 0.74) was eventually achieved for 232 (92.8%) of the 250 ratings. In 4 (8%) of the articles there was a high probability that the advice given could be applied to the wrong patient population; in 7 (14%) there was a high probability that opinion might be interpreted as fact; and in 11 (22%) the major critical issues were not identified. Of greatest concern, however, the advice in 25 (50%) of the articles was judged to be inappropriate, and in 14 (28%) advice may have been dangerous and potentially life-threatening. INTERPRETATION: Although medical advice columns have the potential to improve the health of elderly readers, a significant percentage of these articles contain inappropriate or even potentially dangerous advice. (+info)
Coverage of beverage alcohol issues in the print media in the United States, 1985-1991.
OBJECTIVES: This study assessed the portrayal of alcohol-related issues in the print media in the United States during the 7-year period bracketing implementation of the US alcohol warning label act in November 1988. METHODS: All articles that appeared from 1985 to 1991 in 5 national newspapers and that were indexed as dealing with beverage alcohol were identified. Content analysis of a 15% sample of these articles allowed an in-depth assessment of the conceptualization of alcohol in the US print media. RESULTS: A slight decrease in articles related to alcoholism was offset by an increase in articles about the more general health-related effects of alcohol. The warning label act received little attention. Most articles portrayed alcohol neutrally or negatively, using information from government sources. CONCLUSIONS: Portrayal of alcohol in the US print media has changed in recent decades. A general shift noted as early as the 1960s has increasingly emphasized public health issues and deemphasized clinical aspects of alcoholism. This has been accompanied by a continuing shift away from a biopsychological definition of alcohol-related behavior to a definition stressing external environmental factors. (+info)
Newspaper and wire service coverage of tobacco farmers.
This study examined print media coverage of tobacco farmers from the perspective of agenda setting, or the extent to which information is available to the public and perceived as important. A content analysis of 743 articles published between January 1, 1995 and June 30, 1997 was completed. The number of articles increased from 1995 to 1997. Of the topics analyzed, articles on tobacco settlement (7.1% of total) and diversification (15.6% of total) were the least prevalent. Because the settlement discussions did not occur until 1997 (when it comprised 26.4% of the total in the first 6 months), diversification was consistently the least covered topic. The two most frequent topics covered were tobacco companies (36.2%) and the tobacco price support program (32.3%). Except for one 6 month interval, there were substantially more articles in local/regional publications than in national publications. Public health professionals have called for tobacco farmers to diversify to non-tobacco enterprises. Yet, there is little discussion of diversification in print media. Without more attention to diversification, the public and policy makers will be ill-informed about opportunities and obstacles in this regard. (+info)
The tobacco settlement: an analysis of newspaper coverage of a national policy debate, 1997-98.
OBJECTIVE: To examine the framing of tobacco policy issues in the news media during the national tobacco settlement debate of 1997-98. The major aims were (1) to describe the extent of newspaper coverage of each of the specific components of the proposed tobacco settlement; (2) to identify the tobacco control frames, and the dominant frame, appearing in each newspaper article; and (3) to examine trends in tobacco control frames over time. DESIGN: A content analysis was performed on 117 articles related to national tobacco legislation appearing in the Washington Post from 1 January 1997 through 18 June 1998. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: (1) Major policy themes of the settlement referred to or implied in each article; (2) major frames used to discuss the problem of tobacco in each article. RESULTS: The generation of new revenue was the dominant theme of the articles, appearing as a major focus in 44% (52) of the articles. Other than the issues of Food and Drug Administration regulation of tobacco and restrictions on cigarette advertising, the public health policy aspects of the tobacco settlement received little attention. The problem of tobacco was portrayed as one of youth smoking in 55% (64) of the articles, but as one of a deadly product in none of the articles. CONCLUSIONS: Future discussions of comprehensive tobacco policy should be driven by a more specific discussion of the precise programme and policy mechanisms by which tobacco use can be most effectively prevented and controlled. The public health community must find ways to frame the tobacco issue more broadly than simply as one of youth smoking. (+info)
Coverage by the news media of the benefits and risks of medications.
BACKGROUND: The news media are an important source of information about new medical treatments, but there is concern that some coverage may be inaccurate and overly enthusiastic. METHODS: We studied coverage by U.S. news media of the benefits and risks of three medications that are used to prevent major diseases. The medications were pravastatin, a cholesterol-lowering drug for the prevention of cardiovascular disease; alendronate, a bisphosphonate for the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis; and aspirin, which is used for the prevention of cardiovascular disease. We analyzed a systematic probability sample of 180 newspaper articles (60 for each drug) and 27 television reports that appeared between 1994 and 1998. RESULTS: Of the 207 stories, 83 (40 percent) did not report benefits quantitatively. Of the 124 that did, 103 (83 percent) reported relative benefits only, 3 (2 percent) absolute benefits only, and 18 (15 percent) both absolute and relative benefits. Of the 207 stories, 98 (47 percent) mentioned potential harm to patients, and only 63 (30 percent) mentioned costs. Of the 170 stories citing an expert or a scientific study, 85 (50 percent) cited at least one expert or study with a financial tie to a manufacturer of the drug that had been disclosed in the scientific literature. These ties were disclosed in only 33 (39 percent) of the 85 stories. CONCLUSIONS: News-media stories about medications may include inadequate or incomplete information about the benefits, risks, and costs of the drugs as well as the financial ties between study groups or experts and pharmaceutical manufacturers. (+info)
Representing infant feeding: content analysis of British media portrayals of bottle feeding and breast feeding.
OBJECTIVE: To examine how breast feeding and bottle feeding are represented by the British media. DESIGN: Content analysis. SUBJECTS: Television programmes and newspaper articles that made reference to infant feeding during March 1999. SETTING: UK mass media. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Visual and verbal references to breast or bottle feeding in newspapers and television programmes. RESULTS: Overall, 235 references to infant feeding were identified in the television sample and 38 in the newspaper sample. Bottle feeding was shown more often than breast feeding and was presented as less problematic. Bottle feeding was associated with "ordinary" families whereas breast feeding was associated with middle class or celebrity women. The health risks of formula milk and the health benefits of breast feeding were rarely mentioned. CONCLUSIONS: The media rarely present positive information on breast feeding, even though this feeding practice is associated with the most health benefits. Health professionals and policy makers should be aware of patterns in media coverage and the cultural background within which women make decisions about infant feeding. (+info)
Factors influencing a communitywide campaign to administer hepatitis A vaccine to men who have sex with men.
OBJECTIVES: A hepatitis A outbreak among men who have sex with men (MSM) led to a publicly funded vaccination campaign. We evaluated the MSM community's response. METHODS: A cohort of MSM from 5 community sites was surveyed. RESULTS: Thirty-four (19%) of 178 potential vaccine candidates received the vaccine during the campaign. We found a linear relation between the number of exposures to campaign information and the likelihood of vaccination (P < .001). Vaccination was independently associated with awareness of the outbreak and the vaccine, having had sexual relations with men for 12 years or longer, having recently consulted a physician, and routinely reading a local gay newspaper. CONCLUSIONS: The difficult task of vaccinating MSM can be aided by repetitive promotional messages, especially via the gay media. (+info)