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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 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 …measuring wide array of content …special attention to coverage of: -- risks of controllable environmental exposures -- preventive behavior
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 • 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: “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) NEWSPAPERS(stories per year) 50 USA Today“America’s newspaper” 50 LOS ANGELES TIMES 20 NEW YORK TIMES
TV newscasts & Newsmagazines 10 ABC -- Peter Jennings 8 CBS -- Dan Rather 6 NBC -- Tom Brokaw 10 TIME 8 NEWSWEEK 6 US NEWS
RELATIVE EMPHASIS • Treatment • Awareness • Risks • Prevention • Detection • Prevalence
TOP STORIES 2003-04 • HRT study discontinued • British HRT report: E&PBC • JAMA HRT report: E&PBC • LETROZOLE effective as follow-up • ASPIRIN reduces BC risk • ANTIBIOTICS increase BC risk • BRCA genes increase BC risk
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 • 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 RISKS: • Diet - Obesity – Inactivity • Pesticides • Other Environ Contaminants (esp. localized and occupational)
Under-represented topics PREVENTION: • Weight loss - Exercise • Protective parental actions • Collective policy initiatives • Comprehensive overview
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 • 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 • 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