175474 Public health and the media: National newspaper coverage of minority health disparities

Tuesday, October 28, 2008: 9:10 AM

Chandak Ghosh, MD, MPH , U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), New York, NY
OBJECTIVE: To assess American newspaper coverage regarding racial and ethnic minority health disparities (MHD).

METHOD: LexisNexis® was queried with specific word combinations to elicit all MHD articles printed in 257 newspapers from 2000 to 2004. The full texts were read and articles categorized by racial/ethnic group and specific MHD topic mentioned.

RESULTS: In the 5 years from 2000 to 2004, 1188 MHD articles were published, representing 0.09% of all articles about health. Newspapers gave much attention to MHD when discussed in conferences and meetings and speeches by senior health officials and politicians. Cancer, cardio-vascular disease, and HIV/AIDS were most frequent among disease-specific mentions. Articles about African Americans comprised 60.4% of all race/ethnicity-mentioning articles.

CONCLUSIONS: Despite the release of major organizational reports and the publication of many studies confirming the prevalence of MHD, few newspaper articles have been published explaining MHD to the public. Because of the general public's low rate of health literacy, the health world should collaborate with media to present a consistent, simple message concerning gaps in care experienced by all racial/ethnic minority groups. In a time of consumer-directed healthcare, if Americans understand that MHD's exist, they may galvanize to advocate for disparity elimination and quality improvement.

Learning Objectives:
1) Understand the importance of media in disseminating public health messages about health disparities 2) Identify which health-related events garner the most media attention 3) Articulate how to create stronger links between public health and the media

Keywords: Health Disparities, Media Message

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I developed the concept for the paper and conducted the research.
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.