Article

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.

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    • "Complex social, economic and political causality of health inequities due to income inequity have inhibited the development of pro-equity policies Raise public awareness about effects of income inequality on health outcomes to increase political will. (Gollust et al., 2009) Public policy framework (Tarlov, 1999) (Public consensus) USA SDH (redistributive policies) Problem definition Lack of public support due to diversity in public perceptions Segmented communication approach to by media and politicians that frame SDH messages specifically for political affiliation and social position. (Gamble and Stone, 2006) Multiple streams (Problem definition, framing, public awareness) USA Race Policy formulation Racial inequities have been defined as a research problem not a policy problem. "
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    • "The SDH do not include personal health behaviors (lifestyle choices such as diet and physical activity), individual capacity and coping skills, medical services (although some models do include this in SDH), genetics or biology (National Collaborating Centres for Public Health (NCCPH) 2008; Niederdeppe et al. 2008; Gollust et al. 2009; Raphael 2011). The population health framework can be seen as an overarching framework that includes both the broader social determinants, as well as the inter-and intrapersonal determinants of health (NCCPH 2008), as seen in Fig. 1. "
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    • "Their results indicated that exposure to factual information failed to correct misperceptions among ideological partisans and in some cases resulted in boomerang effects on beliefs and attitudes and greater ideological polarization. Similarly, Gollust, Lantz, and Ubel (2009) found exposure to health messages about the social determinants of diabetes aimed at influencing public support for diabetes-prevention programs lead to a boomerang effect on attitudes about diabetes prevention and a greater ideological polarization between Republicans and Democrats. Likewise, social identity cues may activate the unintended construct that an issue or problem is not applicable to the group to which a message receiver belongs, and thus the message may be ineffective or result in a negative impact (from the sender's perspective) on audience attitudes. "
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