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CONTENT ANALYSIS OF BREAST CANCER NEWS COVERAGE. Presentation to National Communication Association, November 2006 . Charles Atkin & Sandi Smith MSU Vanessa Ferguson, Eastern Mich U. Courtnay McFeters, NCI. Purpose. Examine how news media portray breast cancer

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Content analysis of breast cancer news coverage

CONTENT ANALYSIS OF BREAST CANCER NEWS COVERAGE

Presentation to National Communication Association, November 2006


Content analysis of breast cancer news coverage

Charles Atkin & Sandi Smith MSU

Vanessa Ferguson, Eastern Mich U.

Courtnay McFeters, NCI


Purpose

Purpose

Examine how news media portray breast cancer

…measuring wide array of content

…special attention to coverage of:

-- risks of controllable environmental exposures

-- preventive behavior


Risks and prevention

Risks and Prevention

  • Environmental risks broadly encompass contaminants, pharmaceuticals, and lifestyle practices.

  • Preventive measures range from:

    -- individual (avoiding exposure to pesticides)

    -- parental protection (encouraging daughter to avoid contaminants)

    --collective action (supporting initiatives to restrict local chemical emissions).


Nci comprehensive list

NCI Comprehensive List

  • Age

  • Personal history of BC

  • Family history

  • LCIS

  • Gene changes (BRCA1 BRCA2)

  • Age of menarche

  • Age of first child birth

  • HRT (E+P)


Note at end of nci list

Note at end of NCI list:

“Other possible risk factors are under study…”

  • “effect of diet”

  • “physical activity”

  • “whether certain substances in the environment can increase the risk of breast cancer”


Message sample 2003 04

Message Sample (2003-04)

NEWSPAPERS(stories per year)

50 USA Today“America’s newspaper”

50 LOS ANGELES TIMES

20 NEW YORK TIMES


Tv newscasts newsmagazines

TV newscasts & Newsmagazines

10 ABC -- Peter Jennings

8 CBS -- Dan Rather

6 NBC -- Tom Brokaw

10 TIME

8 NEWSWEEK

6 US NEWS


Relative emphasis

RELATIVE EMPHASIS

  • Treatment

  • Awareness

  • Risks

  • Prevention

  • Detection

  • Prevalence


News channel story source and topic

News Channel: Story Source and Topic


Top stories 2003 04

TOP STORIES 2003-04

  • HRT study discontinued

  • British HRT report: E&PBC

  • JAMA HRT report: E&PBC

  • LETROZOLE effective as follow-up

  • ASPIRIN reduces BC risk

  • ANTIBIOTICS increase BC risk

  • BRCA genes increase BC risk


Coverage of environmental risk factors

Coverage of Environmental Risk Factors

  • 12% Use Hormones/Estrogen/Progesterone/HRT

  • 6% Use other pharmaceuticals

  • 3% Obesity

  • 2% Exposure to chemical contaminants

  • 2% Eating certain unhealthy foods

  • 1% Exposure to pesticides

  • 1% Lack of exercise

  • 1% Tobacco use

  • 1% Exposure to second-hand smoke


Individual prevention methods

Individual Prevention Methods

  • 26% Taking pharmaceuticals

  • 4% Avoiding obesity

  • 3% Participating in exercise

  • 3% Adopting dietary practices: avoid

    certain foods

  • 1% Avoiding environmental

    contaminants

  • 1% Adopting dietary practices: eat certain

    beneficial foods


Under represented topics

Under-represented topics

RISKS:

  • Diet - Obesity – Inactivity

  • Pesticides

  • Other Environ Contaminants

    (esp. localized and occupational)


Under represented topics1

Under-represented topics

PREVENTION:

  • Weight loss - Exercise

  • Protective parental actions

  • Collective policy initiatives

  • Comprehensive overview


Narrative vs stats

Narrative vs. Stats

  • 40% of the stories highlight a personal story of a survivor, advocate, or patient while only 20% of stories include statistical data.

    • Which type of story has the greatest impact on a women’s behavior?


Treatment vs prevention

Treatment vs. Prevention

  • Heavy emphasis on treatment news rather than on prevention methods with an emphasis on chemotherapy regimens.

    • Does this belief in a higher survival rate reduce women’s likelihood to take preventative measures?


News coverage perceived risks

News Coverage & Perceived Risks

  • MSU surveys: BC risk appraisal dominated by family history > E contamination

    …reflecting pattern of news coverage of risks

  • Model persuasion strategy:

    -- challenge complacency among women with low perceived genetic BC susceptibility

    -- emphasize urgency to address E risks for those feeling vulnerable due to family history


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