Journal of Health Communication

Published by Taylor & Francis

Online ISSN: 1087-0415


Print ISSN: 1081-0730


Health Communication Grows in Significance-The 100th Issue
  • Article

January 2012


134 Reads


Understanding the Effects of MTV's 16 and Pregnant on Adolescent Girls' Beliefs, Attitudes, and Behavioral Intentions Toward Teen Pregnancy

March 2014


667 Reads

This article examines the impact of a popular documentary series about teen pregnancy, MTV's 16 and Pregnant, on adolescent girls' pregnancy-related attitudes, beliefs, and behavioral intentions. The results suggest that girls who watched 16 and Pregnant, compared with a control group, reported a lower perception of their own risk for pregnancy and a greater perception that the benefits of teen pregnancy outweigh the risks. The authors also examined the relationships between homophily and parasocial interaction with the teen moms featured in 16 and Pregnant and attitudes, beliefs, and behavioral intentions, finding that homophily predicted lower risk perceptions, greater acceptance of myths about teen pregnancy, and more favorable attitudes about teen pregnancy. Parasocial interaction demonstrated the same pattern of results, with the addition of also predicting fewer behavioral intentions to avoid teen pregnancy. Last, results revealed that teen girls' perceptions that the message of 16 and Pregnant was encouraging of teen pregnancy predicted homophily and parasocial interaction with the teen moms. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

FIGURE 2 Registration page for Chex site's " Most Popular Driver " poll. (Color figure available online.)  
Table 2 Expected features of child-targeted cereal websites, by level of immersion
FIGURE 5 The "for kids" page, promoting Honey Nut Cheerios, on General Mills' lowimmersion basic site for Cheerios. (Color figure available online.)
FIGURE 6 The sign-in page on's high-immersion virtual-world site. (Color figure available online.)  
Marketing Sugary Cereals to Children in the Digital Age: A Content Analysis of 17 Child-Targeted Websites
  • Article
  • Full-text available

February 2013


2,165 Reads

The Institute of Medicine has warned of the harm of food marketing to children from television to new media channels such as the Internet. The authors identified and analyzed the techniques used to engage children on websites from cereal companies-the third largest food marketer to children. The authors found that top breakfast cereal manufacturers maintain child-oriented websites, using strategies unique to the Internet to capture and maintain children's attention. These include branded engagement techniques such as advergames, videos, site registration, and viral marketing, including inviting friends to join the site. The authors found 3 progressive levels of telepresence on child-targeted cereal websites: sites with more than 1 engaging feature, multiple techniques present on individual pages, and the construction of a virtual world. Using Internet traffic data, the authors confirm that these techniques work: cereal marketers reach children online with lengthier and more sophisticated engagements than are possible with traditional, passive media such as television advertisements or product packaging. Despite the cereal manufacturer's self-regulatory pledge to improve their marketing to children, their marketing practices exploit children's susceptibility to advertising by almost exclusively promoting high-sugar cereals using deeply engaging techniques.

FIGURE 1 Trends of newspaper articles, 1945-1990. Numbers of annual newspaper articles on smoking, which appeared in the five Japanese national dailies, are plotted chronologically. Articles were classified and counted in accordance with the codes in Table 1.
TABLE 1 Coding Methods for Newspaper Articles=Diet Debates
TABLE 2 Administrative Actions for Smoking Control in Japan
TABLE 5 Relationship between Media Agenda and Administrative Actions (Correlation= Cross-correlation Coefficients a )
FIGURE 2 Trends of Diet agenda items, 1968–1990. Numbers of annual Diet discussions on smoking are plotted chronologically. Discussions in the Diet were classified and counted in accordance with the agenda categories given in Table 1.  
Agenda Setting for Smoking Control in Japan, 1945-1990: Influence of the Mass Media on National Health Policy Making
Agenda setting is regarded as a key process in policymaking. This study first examines the trends in newspaper articles on smoking and health and the debates on the issue in the Diet in Japan for the period 1945-1990. Then relationships of those articles and debates with national administrative actions are analyzed. Although the media helped set the agenda in the Diet before the emergence of the nonsmokers' rights movement, it did not do so thereafter. On the other hand, media reports continued to be associated with various aspects of administrative policy making throughout the study period and played an important role in mobilizing administrative agencies. Effects of mass media on agencies were regarded as largely independent of the debates in the Diet. It is also noted that simple "scientific" reports on the health hazards of smoking had no association either with agency action or with Diet debates. This indicates that issue building, which consists of creating a package of ideas about the facts, the causal theories, the responsibilities, and the feasible solutions, is important when scientific facts are to be dealt with by policymakers.

Table 2 . Portrayals of cigarette type and color of pack by smoking era 
Table 3 . Portrayals of verbal and visual health claims by smoking era 
Table 4 . Portrayals of cigarettes and model interaction by smoking era 
Promoting Health (Implicitly)? A Longitudinal Content Analysis of Implicit Health Information in Cigarette Advertising, 1954–2003

October 2010


214 Reads

Tobacco studies indicate that health-related information in cigarette advertising leads consumers to underestimate the detrimental health effects of smoking and contributes to their smoking-related perceptions, beliefs, and attitudes. This study examined the frequencies and kinds of implicit health information in cigarette advertising across five distinct smoking eras covering the years 1954-2003. Analysis of 1,135 cigarette advertisements collected through multistage probability sampling of three popular consumer magazines found that the level of implicit health information (i.e., "light" cigarette, cigarette pack color, verbal and visual health cues, cigarette portrayals, and human model-cigarette interaction) in post-Master Settlement Agreement [MSA] era ads is similar to the level in ads from early smoking eras. Specifically, "light" cigarettes were frequently promoted, and presence of light colors in cigarette packs seemed dominant after the probroadcast ban era. Impressionistic verbal health cues (e.g., soft, mild, and refreshing) appeared more frequently in post-MSA era ads than in pre-MSA era ads. Most notably, a majority of the cigarette ads portrayed models smoking, lighting, or offering a cigarette to others. The potential impact of implicit health information is discussed in the contexts of social cognition and Social Cognitive Theory. Policy implications regarding our findings are also detailed.

Portrayal of Childhood Cancer in English Language Magazines in North America: 1970–2001

October 2005


87 Reads

This article is a content and discourse analysis of the portrayal of childhood cancer in English language magazines in North America. In a unique specification of published research on the media portrayal of disease, magazines were divided into three market or audience groupings called (1) science, (2) news/special interest, and (3) other (women/teen/parenting/health). The predominate frames or discoursesin these three groups were compared and differences were found amongst them and discussed in the article. Considerable evidence suggests that people with cancer are stigmatized. In the analyzed media focused on children, those with cancer are highly idealized and stereotyped. On the one hand, this can be thought of as a very positive portrayal of children in this situation. Children are described as if they possess heroic and idealized character traits, appearances, social characteristics, and personalities. Possible links between this idealized, polarized, and biased portrayal of children with cancer and their documented experiences of stigma are discussed.

Articles Media and Marijuana: A Longitudinal Analysis of News Media Effects on Adolescents' Marijuana Use and Related Outcomes, 1977-1999

July 2003


509 Reads

This study examined how aggregate levels of news coverage about marijuana have impacted adolescents' marijuana behavior generally, and through the intervening variables of personal disapproval and perceived harmfulness of marijuana, two variables that existing research has identified as significant predictors of adolescent marijuana use at the aggregate level. It was hypothesized that news coverage of reasons why people should not use marijuana would cause increase in aggregate marijuana abstinence, perceived harmfulness, and personal disapproval. Conversely, news coverage of positive aspects of marijuana use would cause decreases in marijuana abstinence, perceived harmfulness, and personal disapproval. Results of distributed lagged time-series regression and non-linear modeling offered support for two of the three proposed hypotheses. Aggregate media coverage explained a significant portion of the variation in adolescents' abstinence from marijuana use over time. It also explained a significant portion of the variation in personal disapproval of marijuana. Personal disapproval was found to partially mediate the relationship between media coverage and marijuana abstinence. Implications for the conceptualization of media effects on health behaviors are discussed.

The Power of a Frame: An Analysis of Newspaper Coverage of Tobacco Issues-United States, 1985-1996

November 1998


142 Reads

For more than three decades, public policy makers and public health officials have had conclusive evidence of the hazards of tobacco use, yet tobacco products remain legal, accessible, and acceptable in our society. Public health advocates have been unable to develop a consistent, coordinated message powerful enough to combat the influence of the tobacco industry. Studying the way in which the tobacco issue has been framed in the mass media over the past decade may provide important clues as to why public health efforts to overcome the tobacco industry's influence on public policy and on tobacco use have not been entirely successful. This paper describes and analyzes the predominant framing tactics used by the tobacco industry and by tobacco control advocates for the last 11 years by reviewing 179 front-page articles from the New York Times and the Washington Post during this period. We conclude that while the tobacco industry has created a central message and theme which has been used constructively and consistently over time, the tobacco control movement has not developed a consistent, powerful, and compelling message. Developing such a message may be important if the nation is to restore progress in reducing tobacco use.

Reporting AIDS and the Invisible Victims in China: Official Knowledge as News in the People's Daily , 1986–2002

July 2008


61 Reads

Against the backdrop of the sociology of knowledge as a framework, the purposes of this study are threefold: (1) to examine the discourses surrounding the AIDS news in China; (2) to determine how Chinese people with AIDS and the identification of their social groups are covered at the national level; and (3) to discuss the implications of reporting AIDS as official knowledge for a better understanding of the interplay between the mass media and social structure in China today. Findings indicate that as an epidemic, AIDS in China has not only become invisible in the national news, but also constructed as a nonissue devoid of social consequences in public health communication. It is a disease mostly presented in an "us vs. them" news discourse that helps convey the official knowledge as to how AIDS is to be perceived and understood in the country.

Impact of Mass Media and Interpersonal Health Communication on Smoking Cessation Attempts: A Study in North Karelia, 1989-1996

May 1998


105 Reads

This article summarizes an impact evaluation of the North Karelia Project (Finnish CINDI program) on smoking cessation attempts. During the period 1989-1996, data were collected by annual surveys, with response rates varying from 66% to 76%. This study included 1,694 adult current smokers or persons who had quit smoking during the past year, out of a total of 6,011 respondents. Smoking cessation attempts during the past 12 months were examined as a dependent variable. Reported exposures to mass media and interpersonal health communication were examined as possible determinants of smoking cessation. Weekly exposure to mass media health messages was significantly associated with cessation attempts among men only. In contrast, interpersonal health communication, or social influence, was a significant determinant of cessation attempts among both sexes. Exposure to both mass media and interpersonal health communication had an even stronger impact on cessation attempts. Thus, interpersonal communication appears to be an important catalyst of community programs, and its inclusion should be emphasized to obtain a higher impact with community programs.

HIV/AIDS Coverage in Black Newspapers, 1991-1996: Implications for Health Communication and Health Education

October 2002


153 Reads

HIV/AIDS coverage in five African American newspapers (Amsterdam [New York] News, Oakland [California] Post, Washington [District of Columbia] Afro American, Atlanta Inquirer, and Chicago Citizen) was analyzed from 1991 to 1996. During this period, HIV/AIDS became the leading cause of death of young adult African Americans. This study found that coverage of the disease was most prominent in the New York, Oakland, and Washington, D.C., African American newspapers. Although most of the 201 articles analyzed framed the story primarily as a health issue, a large proportion also exhibited a critical attitude toward the government and the "AIDS establishment" about their commitment to saving the lives of minorities. Articles often conveyed the message that fighting HIV/AIDS first requires substantial action regarding the larger contextual issues-economic, political, and social-that cause health inequities. Alternative theories of cause and treatment, such as the possibility that AIDS was created as an extermination plot against African Americans, or that the drug Kemron, endorsed by the Nation of Islam, was the most promising treatment for HIV, generally were discussed as legitimate even though much evidence exists to refute these theories. These frames reflect distrust and rational concerns rooted in the historical context of American race relations, including the legacy of the Tuskegee study. Increased understanding of the frames presented in the African American press may contribute to the ability of researchers, health practitioners, and health journalists to constructively respond to the concerns of the African American community.

AIDS in black and white: the influence of newspaper coverage of HIV/AIDS on HIV/AIDS testing among African Americans and White Americans, 1993-2007

March 2014


64 Reads

This study examined the effect of newspaper coverage of HIV/AIDS on HIV testing behavior in a U.S. population. HIV testing data were taken from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's National Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System from 1993 to 2007 (N = 265,557). The authors content-analyzed news stories from 24 daily newspapers and 1 wire service during the same time period. The authors used distributed lagged regression models to estimate how well HIV/AIDS newspaper coverage predicted later HIV testing behavior. Increases in HIV/AIDS newspaper coverage were associated with declines in population-level HIV testing. Each additional 100 HIV/AIDS-related newspaper stories published each month was associated with a 1.7% decline in HIV testing levels in the subsequent month. This effect differed by race, with African Americans exhibiting greater declines in HIV testing subsequent to increased news coverage than did Whites. These results suggest that mainstream newspaper coverage of HIV/AIDS may have a particularly deleterious effect on African Americans, one of the groups most affected by the disease. The mechanisms driving the negative effect deserve further investigation to improve reporting on HIV/AIDS in the media.

The AIDS risk narrative in the 1994 CDC campaign

April 1997


32 Reads

In 1994, as part of its continuing "America Responds to AIDS" campaign, the CDC launched an innovative, straightforward campaign comprising nine public service announcements (PSAs) that advocate either condom use for sexually active young adults or sexual inactivity. This article evaluates the persuasive appeals of the PSAs through use of Fisher's (1984) narrative theory. It argues that the ads are likely to be effective for two reasons: (a) Because they are told in a story fashion, they will appeal to larger audiences; (b) moreover, because they contain high narrative probability and narrative fidelity, and because they provide "good reasons," they will find greater acceptance. However, because of the PSAs' failure to address competing narratives adequately, as well as network hesitance to broadcast them during heavy viewing periods, their effectiveness may be lessened. Ultimately, it is concluded the PSAs are an important step forward in communicating concerns of the continuing HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Impact of the Integrated Radio Communication Project in Nepal, 1994-1997

October 1999


47 Reads


Marc Boulay


Yagya Karki




Dibya Man Karmacharya
The Radio Communication Project (RCP) in Nepal is an ongoing, theory-based, multimedia reproductive health campaign which began in 1995. It consists of two entertainment-education radio serials (a soap opera for the general public and a dramatized distance education serial for health workers), additional radio spot advertisements and promotions, and complementary print materials. This paper examines impact data from a variety of sources, including a pre- and postpanel survey of currently married women (N = 1905), three waves of clinic-based observations of client-provider interactions (N = 240 per wave) and client exit interviews (N = 240 per wave), and 2 years of clinic service statistics, in order to draw inferences about the separate and combined effects of the RCP components. The study found increased health worker interpersonal interaction skills, improved quality of client-provider interactions, increased client self-efficacy in dealing with health workers, improved client attitudes toward health services and toward the practice of family planning, increased adoption of family planning, and increased family planning service utilization, all attributable to the RCP. The panel data allowed statistical control of the influence of predisposing factors before the campaign on postcampaign ideation and behavior. The effect of the RCP on contraceptive behavior was largely indirect through its influence on ideation. Implications for the design of integrated, multimedia, entertainment-education campaigns and integrated evaluation designs are discussed.

Fair Balance in Direct-to-Consumer Antidepressant Print and Television Advertising, 1995–2007

November 2011


75 Reads

The authors evaluated fair balance in the presentation of risks and benefits in a large sample of direct-to-consumer advertising for prescription antidepressant medications appearing in magazines (1995-2006) and television (1999-2007) to assess how well they meet U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines. Using content analysis to capture relevant dimensions of the ads, results indicated that (a) considerably less attention is given to risks relative to benefits and (b) implicit ad content favors communication of drug benefits over risks, but that fair balance in direct-to-consumer ads has improved over time. The authors discuss policy implications and explore future research directions.

Defining Moments in Risk Communication Research: 1996–2005

February 2006


2,957 Reads

Ten years ago, scholars suggested that risk communication was embarking on a new phase that would give increased attention to the social contexts that surround and encroach on public responses to risk information. A decade later, many researchers have answered the call, with several defining studies examining the social and psychological influences on risk communication. This article reviews risk communication research appearing in the published literature since 1996. Among studies, social trust, the social amplification of risk framework, and the affect heuristic figured prominently. Also common were studies examining the influence of risk in the mass media. Among these were content analyses of media coverage of risk, as well as investigations of possible effects resulting from coverage. The use of mental models was a dominant method for developing risk message content. Other studies examined the use of risk comparisons, narratives, and visuals in the production of risk messages. Research also examined how providing information about a risk's severity, social norms, and efficacy influenced communication behaviors and intentions to follow risk reduction measures. Methods for conducting public outreach in health risk communication rounded out the literature.

National Immunization Information Hotline: Calls Concerning Adverse Events, 1998–2000

September 2004


17 Reads

Data from the National Immunization Information Hotline (NIIH) concerning vaccine adverse event inquiries were analyzed from 1998 to 2000 (total n = 23,841 [public n = 14,330; health care professionals n = 9,511]). Approximately 20% of calls from the public from 1998 to 2000 concerned vaccine adverse events. These calls increased 199.5% from 1998 (n = 422) to 1999 (n = 1,264), then declined 12.4% from 1999 to 2000 (n = 1,107). A Lexus Nexus search showed that the number of news stories mentioning vaccine safety showed a similar pattern. Women were more likely to call the NIIH concerning vaccine adverse events than men, and persons 40-59 years old and persons 60 years old and over were less likely to call about vaccine adverse events than those 20-39 years. The parallel trends in news stories mentioning vaccine safety and calls to the NIIH concerning adverse events suggests that news stories may stimulate questions about vaccine safety. Understanding that news stories may elicit questions about vaccine adverse events and examining the characteristics of persons who ask vaccine adverse event questions may guide future informational interventions toward those most in need.

Targeting Adolescents? The Content and Frequency of Alcoholic and Nonalcoholic Beverage Ads in Magazine and Video Formats November 1999–April 2000

January 2006


58 Reads

This study compared alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverage advertising to which adolescents are exposed. A census of beverage advertising (N = 757) in popular magazines and television during November 1999-April 2000 was analyzed. Most alcohol ads appeared in Sports Illustrated (110), Rolling Stone (98), and Playboy (75) and outnumbered nonalcoholic beverage advertising by 3 to 1. Alcohol was almost never associated with dining. Alcohol ads emphasized sexual and social stereotypes and lacked diversity. One of every 6 magazine alcohol ads, and 1 of every 14 video-based ads, appeared to target teenagers. Many similarities existed between alcohol and nonalcohol ads. We conclude that alcohol is advertised heavily to youth through placement and appeals. The fact that themes in alcohol ads frequently parallel those in nonalcoholic beverage ads may further increase youths' receptivity.

Realizing the Promise of Web 2.0: Engaging Community Intelligence

July 2011


201 Reads

Discussions of Health 2.0, a term first coined in 2005, were guided by three main tenets: (a) health was to involve more participation, because an evolution in the web encouraged more direct consumer engagement in their own health care; (b) data was to become the new "Intel Inside" for systems supporting the vital decisions in health; and (c) a sense of collective intelligence from the network would supplement traditional sources of knowledge in health decision making. Interests in understanding the implications of a new paradigm for patient engagement in health and health care were kindled by findings from surveys such as the National Cancer Institute's Health Information National Trends Survey, showing that patients were quick to look online for information to help them cope with disease. This article considers how these 3 facets of Health 2.0--participation, data, and collective intelligence--can be harnessed to improve the health of the nation according to Healthy People 2020 goals. The authors begin with an examination of evidence from behavioral science to understand how Web 2.0 participative technologies may influence patient processes and outcomes, for better or worse, in an era of changing communication technologies. The article then focuses specifically on the clinical implications of Health 2.0 and offers recommendations to ensure that changes in the communication environment do not detract from national (e.g., Healthy People 2020) health goals. Changes in the clinical environment, as catalyzed by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act to take advantage of Health 2.0 principles in evidence-based ways, are also considered.

Using Web 2.0 Technologies to Enhance Evidence-Based Medical Information

July 2011


139 Reads

This article invokes research on information seeking and evaluation to address how providers of evidence-based medical information can use Web 2.0 technologies to increase access to, enliven users' experiences with, and enrich the quality of the information available. In an ideal scenario, evidence-based medical information can take appropriate advantage of community intelligence spawned by Web 2.0 technologies, resulting in the ideal combination of scientifically sound, high-quality information that is imbued with experiential insights from a multitude of individuals. To achieve this goal, the authors argue that people will engage with information that they can access easily, and that they perceive as (a) relevant to their information-seeking goals and (b) credible. The authors suggest the utility of Web 2.0 technologies for engaging stakeholders with evidence-based medical information through these mechanisms, and the degree to which the information provided can and should be trusted. Last, the authors discuss potential problems with Web 2.0 information in relation to decision making in health contexts, and they conclude with specific and practical recommendations for the dissemination of evidence-based health information via Web 2.0 technologies.

Dissemination 2.0: Closing the Gap Between Knowledge and Practice With New Media and Marketing

July 2011


163 Reads

Despite substantial investments in public health and clinical research at the national level, and significant advancements in these areas of science, few evidence-based programs and services are rapidly implemented in health care or public health practice as a result of failures of dissemination. A significant gap in current processes to disseminate and implement effective programs relates to the lack of systems and infrastructure to facilitate distribution of scientific research products to potential end users, including clinicians and other practitioners. In this article, the authors assert that Web 2.0 technologies can be leveraged to enhance dissemination efforts and increase the implementation of evidence-based programs and services in everyday practice. The authors describe the research-to-practice delivery process and highlight gaps in the supply chain necessary to translate research findings into evidence-based practice. The authors critically evaluate the 4 most prominent strategies currently used to promote dissemination and implementation of research evidence in practice, and they detail how each can be improved by leveraging Web 2.0 technologies to enhance dissemination of research evidence. Last, the authors provide examples and suggestions for capitalizing on Web 2.0 technologies to enhance dissemination efforts and ensure that evidence-based research products reach intended end users and are implemented in clinical practice.

Exploring the Potential of Web 2.0 to Address Health Disparities

July 2011


160 Reads

This article addresses use of the Internet and Web 2.0 technologies by racial and ethnic minorities and explores the potential opportunities and challenges in leveraging Web 2.0 approaches to impact health disparities. These opportunities and challenges include developing approaches and methods to (a) identify strategies for integrating social media into health promotion interventions focused on major health-related issues that affect members of medically underserved groups; (b) amalgamate techniques to leverage and connect social-media technologies to other evidence-informed online resources; (c) integrate health communication best practices, including addressing health literacy issues; (d) capitalize on social networking to enhance access and communication with health care providers; and (e) advance current efforts and ongoing expansion of research participation by individuals from underserved communities.

Bradley vs. Gore: How Media Covered Proposals for Health Insurance Reform in the Context of the 2000 Presidential Campaign

May 2003


12 Reads

This study examines how often national media reported key aspects of Senator Bill Bradley's and Vice President Al Gore's proposals for health insurance reform during the 2000 Democratic primary campaign. The results show that news media reported on Bradley's plan and major features of his plan significantly more often than Gore's. Additionally, few reports contained explicit comparisons that explained which plan would have covered more people or cost more. Public health and media professionals need to work together to improve the quality of information the public depends on to develop views about and support for the uninsured.

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