The Polarizing Effect of News Media Messages About the Social Determinants of Health

University of Pennsylvania, 3641 Locust Walk, Room 302, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6218, USA.
American Journal of Public Health (Impact Factor: 4.23). 12/2009; 99(12):2160-7. DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2009.161414
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Framing health problems in terms of the social determinants of health aims to shift policy attention to nonmedical strategies to improve population health, yet little is known about how the public responds to these messages. We conducted an experiment to test the effect of a news article describing the social determinants of type 2 diabetes on the public's support for diabetes prevention strategies. We found that exposure to the social determinants message led to a divergence between Republicans' and Democrats' opinions, relative to their opinions after viewing an article with no message about the causes of diabetes. These results signify that increasing public awareness of the social determinants of health may not uniformly increase public support for policy action.

  • Howard Journal of Communication 07/2014; 25(3):257-280. DOI:10.1080/10646175.2014.922910
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The prevalence of type 2 diabetes is rapidly rising, especially among minority and low-income youth. There is an unmet need to engage youth in identifying solutions to reverse this trajectory. Social marketing campaigns and entertainment education are effective forms of health communication for engaging populations in health-promoting behaviors. Critical to curbing the epidemic is moving the diabetes conversation away from individual behavior alone and toward a socioecologic perspective using a public health literacy framework. The authors developed an academic-community partnership to develop, implement, and evaluate a type 2 diabetes prevention campaign targeting minority and low-income youth. The Bigger Picture campaign uses hard-hitting, youth-generated spoken-word messages around key environmental and social drivers of the type 2 diabetes epidemic. Campaign goals included promoting health capacity and civic engagement. This article focuses on the development and implementation of the campaign, including (a) rationale and theoretical underpinnings, (b) steps in campaign creation, (c) testing the campaign messaging, and (d) campaign dissemination and evaluation planning. A youth-created health communication campaign using a public health literacy framework with targeted, relevant, and compelling messaging appears to be a promising vehicle for reaching at-risk youth to increase knowledge of and attitudes about preventing type 2 diabetes, change social norms, and motivate participation in health-promoting initiatives.
    Journal of Health Communication 10/2014; 19 Suppl 2:144-60. DOI:10.1080/10810730.2014.940476 · 1.61 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: In March 2012, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launched the first-ever paid national tobacco education campaign. At a cost of US $54 million, "Tips from Former Smokers" (Tips) ran for 3 months across multiple media, depicting the suffering experienced by smokers and their families in graphic detail. The potential impact and reach of the Tips campaign was not limited to that achieved through paid media placements. It was also potentially extended through "earned media", including news and blog coverage of the campaign. Such coverage can shape public understanding of and facilitate public engagement with key health issues. To better understand the contribution of earned media to the public's engagement with health issues in the current news media environment, we examined the online "earned media" and public engagement generated by one national public health campaign. We constructed a purposive sample of online media coverage of the CDC's 2012 Tips from Former Smokers television campaign, focusing on 14 influential and politically diverse US news outlets and policy-focused blogs. We identified relevant content by combining campaign and website-specific keywords for 4 months around the campaign release. Each story was coded for content, inclusion of multimedia, and measures of audience engagement. The search yielded 36 stories mentioning Tips, of which 27 were focused on the campaign. Story content between pieces was strikingly similar, with most stories highlighting the same points about the campaign's content, cost, and potential impact. We saw notable evidence of audience engagement; stories focused on Tips generated 9547 comments, 8891 Facebook "likes", 1027 tweets, and 505 story URL shares on Facebook. Audience engagement varied by story and site, as did the valence and relevance of associated audience comments. Comments were most oppositional on CNN and most supportive on Yahoo. Comment coding revealed approximately equal levels of opposition and support overall. We identified four common arguments among oppositional comments: government intrusion on personal behaviors, problematic allocation of governmental spending, questionable science, and challenges regarding campaign efficacy. Supportive comments tended to convey personal stories and emotions. The Tips campaign received limited coverage on either online news or blog sources, but the limited number of stories generated engagement among online audiences. In addition to the content and volume of blog and news coverage, audience comments and websites' mechanisms for sharing stories via social media are likely to determine the influence of online earned media. In order to facilitate meaningful evaluation of public health campaigns within the rapidly advancing media environment, there is a need for the public health community to build consensus regarding collection and assessment of engagement data.
    Journal of Medical Internet Research 01/2015; 17(1):e12. DOI:10.2196/jmir.3645 · 4.67 Impact Factor


1 Download
Available from