Testing the Effect of Framing and Sourcing in Health News Stories

School of Journalism, University of Texas-Austin, 78712, USA.
Journal of Health Communication (Impact Factor: 1.61). 06/2011; 16(9):941-54. DOI: 10.1080/10810730.2011.561918
Source: PubMed


This study examines whether changing the way news stories report on health can induce shifts in readers' perceptions of problems of obesity, diabetes, immigrant health, and smoking. The authors manipulated two variables in a controlled experiment: the quality of sourcing-the number of sources and their expertise-and the framing-changing from an episodic, traditional frame to a thematic frame that incorporated information on context, risk factors, prevention strategies, and social attributions of responsibility. The authors found that a thematic frame made readers more supportive of public policy changes and encouraged them to improve their own health behaviors. However, it did not alter their attributions of responsibility for health problems from one of blaming individuals to seeing the larger social factors. Adding richer sourcing to the thematic frame did not increase these effects, nor did readers find the thematic stories to be more interesting, relevant, believable, important, and informative. In addition, there were differential results because of story topics that represent uncontrolled effects. The implications for improving health reporting to encourage positive change in society are discussed.

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Available from: Renita Coleman, May 26, 2014
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