Average household exposure to newspaper coverage about the harmful effects of hormone therapy and population-based declines in hormone therapy use

J Gen Intern Med. 2007 Jan;22(1):68-73. doi: 10.1007/s11606-007-0122-7.


Background: The news media facilitated the rapid dissemination of the findings from the estrogen plus progestin therapy arm of the Women's Health Initiative (EPT-WHI).

Objective: To examine the relationship between the potential exposure to newspaper coverage and subsequent hormone therapy (HT) use. DESIGN/POPULATION: Population-based cohort of women receiving mammography at 7 sites (327,144 postmenopausal women).

Measurements: The outcome was the monthly prevalence of self-reported HT use. Circulation data for local, regional, and national newspapers was used to create zip-code level measures of the estimated average household exposure to newspaper coverage that reported the harmful effects of HT in July 2002.

Results: Women had an average potential household exposure of 1.4 articles. There was substantial variation in the level of average household exposure to newspaper coverage; women from rural sites received less than women from urban sites. Use of HT declined for all average potential exposure groups after the publication of the EPT-WHI. HT prevalence among women who lived in areas where there was an average household exposure of at least 3 articles declined significantly more (45 to 27%) compared to women who lived in areas with <1 article (43 to 31%) during each of the subsequent 5 months (relative risks 0.86-0.92; p < .006 for all).

Conclusions: Greater average household exposure to newspaper coverage about the harms associated with HT was associated with a large population-based decline in HT use. Further studies should examine whether media coverage directly influences the health behavior of individual women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cohort Studies
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy / adverse effects*
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Middle Aged
  • Newspapers as Topic*
  • Racial Groups / statistics & numerical data
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Rural Population
  • United States
  • Urban Population