142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition

Annual Meeting Recordings are now available for purchase

Bad Moms and Blameless Dads: The Portrayal of Maternal and Paternal Age and Preconception Harm in U.S. Newspapers

142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition (November 15 - November 19, 2014): http://www.apha.org/events-and-meetings/annual
Tuesday, November 18, 2014 : 11:30 AM - 11:50 AM

Laura Santacrose, MPH , Department of Health Promotion, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
Lisa Campo-Engelstein, PhD , Alden March Bioethics Institute & OBGYN Department, Albany Medical College, Albany, NY
Zubin Master, PhD , Alden March Bioethics Institute, Albany Medical College, Albany, NY
Wendy Parker, PhD , School of Arts and Sciences, Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Albany, NY
Background: The public’s understanding of science is delivered mostly through mass media, which in turn impacts how people think about and use scientific and medical technologies in their daily lives. Therefore, it is important to understand how the media represents preconception harm, how accurately the science is described, and who is responsible for the harm as this information is likely to influence how individuals and couples view conception.

Methods: A content analysis was undertaken of 64 newspaper articles after systematic searching and selection of articles based on inclusion criteria. A coding framework was developed and used to analyze articles for tone. The body and title of articles were analyzed for one or more of 8 tones, which were correlated with the main article focus and gender of author.

Results: Most articles (59%) were maternally focused, 35% were paternally focused, and 6% were equally focused on both women and men. The most frequent maternal tones were informational (29%), demographics (18%), justice (15%), and anxiety (15%). The most frequent paternal tones were informational (25%), demographics (17%), surprise (17%) and reassurance (13%).

Conclusions: Most U.S. newspaper articles focused on maternal age related harms and were more likely to use negative tones for women. In contrast, paternal age related harms were less likely to be discussed and tended to include more reassuring tones. Authors of newspaper articles should employ more gender-neutral tones when discussing age related preconception harm.

Learning Areas:

Communication and informatics
Ethics, professional and legal requirements

Learning Objectives:
Compare and contrast how U.S. newspapers portray maternal age and related fetal harm versus paternal age and related fetal harm.

Keyword(s): Ethics, Maternal and Child Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: While earning my Master of Public Health with a concentration in Social Behavior and Community Health, I completed this research project in collaboration with faculty members from Albany Medical College and the Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. Additionally, I have previously presented this work at the Albany Medical Centerís Ethics Grand Rounds.
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.