The Prevalence and Coverage of Serious Health Risks in Popular Women's Magazines


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A content analysis of the coverage and emphasis of serious health risks in popular women's magazines. This was presented at the 2009 AEJMC conference in Boston, where I won the Top Faculty Paper in my division.

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  • Good Morning, My name is Shanna Kurpe. The study I am about to present to you was a part of my master’s thesis while studying at Florida State University. It as a part of a larger study that I did with the help of Dr. Gary Heald, and Dr. Juliann Cortese. Today, and I am going to quickly discuss some background information about the study, share with you how we did the study, and then share with you our findings. SO, let’s get started with the background.
  • When looking at other research, we find that minorities are at a significant risk of lifestyle influenced diseases. We also find that inequalities exist in the media when in terms of available and accurate information. Some researches conclude that these inequalities in the media could explain the existing gaps in health status.
  • Women are important because they play a significant and influential role within the family. Unfortunately, they have recently adopted negative lifestyle habits, such as smoking, drinking, inactivity and unhealthy eating. These habits are contributing to an increase in serious diseases. I will point out that lung cancer is now the most life-threatening cancer among women, surpassing breast cancer.
  • We all know that influence that media has on both knowledge and behavior, and magazines are particular important among women because they are appealing and a leading source of health information for women.
  • With that information, we wanted to know more about the coverage of these 13 serious health risks in women’s magazines. First, we wanted to know if the content in women’s magazines mirrored the prevalence of the serious health risks. We wanted to compare the general population with a magazine targeting that population, and the Hispanic population with a magazine targeting US Hispanics. Lastly, we wanted to know how the magazines compared when looked at side by side.
  • To start, we selected two magazines, Self and Vanidades because of they have similar audiences, reach and mission statements, and because they are both popular women’s magazines for their particular population. We did a stratified random sample across years and business quarters for issues in 2006 and 2007, sampling a total of 48 magazines and 881 articles.
  • I created a very detailed, 22 page codebook with 67 questions, and only a select few were used in this particular paper. This code book was used by both myself and a second coder who also spoke both English and Spanish. The code book was the number 1 reason we were able to establish such high-levels of reliability, using Krippendorf’s alpha test for reliability, with most reliability results reaching .99 or higher.
  • So, in conclusion we have learned a few things. First, there is a strong relationship between prevalence and coverage but both magazines are placing low emphasis on strokes, lung cancers and liver disease. that women who want to learn more about these health risks should consult Self magazine, but this poses a problem since it is only printed in English.Second, we learned that Self magazine is covering articles more often and dedicating more space to serious health risks when compared to Vanidades. Third, we found that there are three health risks where we find notable differences between the two populations that are given significantly more coverage in Self magazine that in Vandidades. Yet finally, when we take into consideration the amount of space dedicated to these health risks, we find that in each magazine gives less than 5%, which tells us that both magazines give little attention to the most prevalent, yet preventable health risks among women.
  • The Prevalence and Coverage of Serious Health Risks in Popular Women's Magazines

    1. 1. Theprevalence& Coverage of Serious health risks<br />A Content Analysis of Popular Women’s Health Magazines <br />Targeting General and Hispanic Populations<br />Shanna Kurpe<br />Gary R. Heald, PhD.<br />Juliann Cortese, PhD.<br />
    2. 2. Research Review<br />Minorities are at significant risk for lifestyle-influenced diseases(Andresen & Brownson, 1999; National Women’s Health Information Center, 2006; Read & Gorman, 2005).<br />Inequalities exist in the Media (Hall, Folta, & Goldberg, 2007; Mastin & Campo, 2006; “Magazines aimed”, 2005; Pollay, Lee, & Carter-Whitney, 1992).<br />These inequalities may contribute to health gaps (Duerksen, et al., 2005). <br />
    3. 3. Women and health<br />Health Decision-Maker<br />Neglect their health for the family<br />Influence family habits<br />Negative Lifestyle Trends<br />38.7% insufficient physical activity<br />71.3% insufficient fruits and veggies<br />Increase in tobacco and alcohol use<br />High-risk heterosexual contact<br />Increase in Serious Diseases<br />Lung Cancer<br />Heart Disease<br />HIV/AIDS<br />
    4. 4. Gaps in health status<br />
    5. 5. Media influence<br />Notable Differences in Media<br />Portrayal of ethnic minorities<br />Information available to minorities<br />Influences Knowledge and Behavior<br />Benefits to Health Communicators<br />Unique Ability to Narrowcast <br />Pass-along Value<br />Esthetic Appeal<br />Primary Source of Health Information<br />
    6. 6. Research Questions<br />To what extend does the content of articles in U.S. general women’s audience health-related magazines parallel the high-risk causes of morbidity and mortality in the U.S?<br />To what extent does the content of articles in U.S. Latina/Hispanic women’s health-related magazines parallel the high-risk causes of morbidity and mortality among Latino/Hispanic persons in the U.S.?<br />When comparing health-related U.S. magazines targeting general and Latina/Hispanic women audiences, is there a difference in the coverage of high-risk causes of morbidity and mortality among women in the United States? <br />
    7. 7. A careful comparison<br />
    8. 8. Coding methods<br />
    9. 9. Prevalence vs. Coverage (General)<br />
    10. 10. Prevalence vs. Coverage (hispanic)<br />
    11. 11. Differences in coverage (frequency)<br />
    12. 12. Differences in coverage (size)<br />
    13. 13. conclusions<br />Both magazines places low emphasis on:<br />Cerebrovascular Diseases<br />Trachea, Bronchus and Lung Cancer<br />Liver Disease and Cirrhosis<br />SELF Magazine Covers Health Risks<br />More often per 100 Pages<br />More space in Square Inches<br />Diseases w/Noticeable Differences found in SELF<br />Diabetes<br />Cervical Cancer<br />Hepatitis B<br />Total Space Dedicated to Health Risks<br />SELF < 5%<br />Vanidades = 0.47%<br />