214853 Exposure to health information in the mass media and its association with healthy lifestyle behaviors and health status

Monday, November 8, 2010 : 1:00 PM - 1:15 PM

Andy Tan, MBBS, MPH, MBA , Annenberg School for Communication at University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Background: Consumer health information is proliferating in the mass media. Research has largely focused on the nature and quantity of health information portrayed in the media or its effects on consumer knowledge and selected behaviors. It is unclear if consumer health media influences more distal health outcomes such as individuals' health status or whether health-promoting behaviors such as physical activity, fruit and vegetable intake, or smoking avoidance mediate the relationship between health media and health outcomes.

Aim: This study examines the relationship between health media exposure and health status and assesses the role of healthy lifestyle behavior as a mediating factor.

Methods: The analysis is based on data from the Annenberg National Health Communication Survey (ANHCS), an ongoing web-based survey conducted among a national sample of 16,297 adults from January 2005 to September 2009. Completion rates of the survey ranged from 52-79%. Ordinary least squares (OLS) regression analyses and formal tests of mediation using Sobel's test were conducted.

Results: Controlling for demographic factors, physician and interpersonal sources of health information, health media exposure has a small positive association with self-reported health status (B=.04, p<.05). Additionally, health media exposure is strongly associated with an index of healthy lifestyle behaviors (B=.592, p<.001). Importantly, the relationship between health media exposure and health status is significantly mediated through healthy lifestyle behaviors (Z-statistic=10.10, p<.001).

Conclusions: Exposure to health information from the mass media matters for distal health outcomes and this relationship may be mediated through the effects of health media exposure on healthy lifestyle behaviors.

Learning Areas:
Communication and informatics
Public health or related education
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the association between overall health media exposure (defined as individuals’ collective consumption of health information through television, print, and the internet sources) on self-reported health status. 2. Demonstrate that the association between health media exposure and health status is mediated through healthy lifestyle behaviors (defined as exercise, fruit & vegetable intake, non-smoking, and non-binge drinking).

Keywords: Media, Health Behavior

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: 1. I formulated the research questions, designed and performed the statistical analyses, and completed the draft manuscript for this paper.
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.