Prevalence and framing of health disparities in local print news
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
: 3:15 PM - 3:30 PM
Despite efforts to raise public awareness of health disparities to gain public support for structural solutions, surveys have shown that Americans remain largely unaware of disparities and social determinants of health. Local news media may contribute to this knowledge deficit. While media content analyses have found some evidence of national disparities coverage, it is equally important to consider local print news. Local news may play a critical role in shaping public opinion and the local policy agenda. Research has shown that people rely on local print sources for news about their communities, and local media use is associated with greater community involvement and engagement. In this study, we present results of a content analysis of local print news in two lower-income cities with substantial racial/ethnic minority populations. These data were collected as part of Project IMPACT, a federally-funded study designed to influence media coverage and public opinion about health disparities. After establishing inter-coder reliability (Krippendorff's alpha=0.60–1.00), coders reviewed the primary English- and Spanish-language newspaper in each city, identifying health disparities stories published in 2010. We found that disparities coverage was rare in both mainstream and ethnic print media: only one disparities story was identified in the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune, while the greatest number (n=10) was identified in Providence En Español. Although some stories identified causes of disparities, these were often framed in individual (e.g., poor dietary habits) rather than social contextual terms (e.g., lack of food availability/affordability). Implications for health journalism and campaigns to raise disparities awareness will be discussed.
Communication and informatics
Diversity and culture
Public health or related education
Public health or related public policy
Social and behavioral sciences
Describe the role of the local news media in shaping public opinion and the policy agenda
Understand the ways in which disparities have been covered by the local mainstream and ethnic media in two lower-income cities with substantial racial/ethnic minority populations
Discuss the implications for communication campaigns designed to raise awareness about health disparities
Keywords: Media, Health Disparities
Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I led the research discussed in this abstract, which was conducted at the Harvard School of Public Health and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
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.