246518 El Obamacare: A comparison of healthcare reform coverage in Spanish and English language newspapers in Miami, FL

Monday, October 31, 2011

Veronica Lopez , Public Health Studies, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
Katherine Clegg Smith, PhD , Department of Health, Behavior and Society, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
Background News media provide important health information for the US population. Disparities in access to healthcare for minority populations create a need to evaluate the quality and volume of information available in mainstream and targeted ethnic media. Focusing on the Hispanic American population, this study compares information on healthcare reform available in English-language and Spanish-language newspapers following the signing of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law on March 23, 2010.

Methods A content analysis was performed on the front section of two Miami, FL newspapers: Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald (March 23, 2010 to September 23, 2010). All articles on health care reform were collected and then coded for type, content, Hispanic relevancy and length. These measures were adapted from prior health news studies.

Results There were 127 stories on health care reform in the front sections of these two newspapers; the English-language newspaper published three times as many stories (98 vs 29). In both newspapers, coverage peaked on the day of signing. More coverage in El Nuevo Herald highlighted the consequences of reform (45% vs 27%), but explanations seldom included specific effects for Hispanic Americans (9%). Neither newspaper routinely included content to enhance relevancy for a Hispanic audience.

Conclusions Behavioral changes are anticipated when information is both accessible and directly relevant to the target population. These results suggest considerable scope for improvement in the transmission of information to minorities on critical health topics, such as healthcare reform, both in mainstream and targeted news outlets.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Communication and informatics
Diversity and culture
Public health or related public policy
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe how news coverage is made relevant for minority audiences List three main themes in news coverage of health care reform immediately after passage

Keywords: Latino Health, Media Message

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I conducted this research as my undergraduate thesis project
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.