174329 Brain health in the media: An exploratory analysis of health promotion in popular magazines (2006-2007)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Daniela B. Friedman, Msc, PhD , Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
Anna E. Mathews, MS, CHES , Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
James N. Laditka, DA, PhD, MPA , Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
Sarah B. Laditka, PhD, MA, MBA , Department of Health Services Policy and Management, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
Recent research suggests that physical activity (PA) and healthy diets may help to maintain brain health, with particularly strong evidence for PA. Print media contributes importantly to preventive health communication. This is the first study to evaluate brain health coverage in mass circulating publications. We examined every page of every issue of 22 English-language magazines published over a two-year period (2006-07), searching for articles on brain health. There were 195. Many were longer features (>1 page; 38.0%), or brief items (< 1 page; 27.7%). About 60% were in health/lifestyle sections, 20.0% in special brain health sections. Article content was mainly on diet alone (25.1%), or multiple behaviors (14.9%), such as diet and PA. PA was rarely the sole focus (3.6%), and was much less commonly mentioned than diet. Article focus areas included keeping sharp/alert (26.7%), Alzheimer's disease (18.0%), and memory (4.9%). While mentioned in about 20%, fewer focused on medication (7.2%), vitamins/supplements (7.2%), or mind exercises (5.6%). Main sources cited for article content were colleges/research institutions (34.9%), doctors (13.9%), and personal stories representing lay perspectives (9.2%). Researchers were quoted most often in articles citing colleges, but even then in only 16.4%. Celebrities were quoted in 6.7%. Only 23.1% provided contact information for additional resources. Most of these (71.1%) were for commercial/for-profit organizations; 2.6% were for nonprofits. Findings suggest a need for greater media coverage about maintaining brain health through PA, a lack of credible contact resources, and very limited messages from nonprofit organizations focused on brain health.

Learning Objectives:
The participant/learner in this session will be able to: 1. Identify brain health content published in popular magazines. 2. Understand strengths and limitations of brain health coverage in mass print media.

Keywords: Media Message, Aging

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I was involved in project development and conducted analysis on data for this abstract.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.