Effects of newspaper coverage on public knowledge about modifiable cancer risks

Health Commun. 2008 Jul;23(4):380-90. doi: 10.1080/10410230802229894.


This study explores the relationship between cancer newspaper coverage and public knowledge about cancer prevention, confirming self-reported associations between news exposure and cancer prevention knowledge with descriptions of newspaper coverage of modifiable cancer risks. Content analyses (N = 954) revealed that newspapers pay relatively little attention to cancer prevention. However, there is greater newspaper attention to tobacco and diet than to exercise, sun, and alcohol. Survey analysis (the National Cancer Institute's Health Information National Trends Survey) revealed that after controlling for differences based on gender, race, age, income, and education, attention to health news was significantly associated with knowledge about cancer risks associated with food and smoking but not for knowledge about exercise, sun, or alcohol. These findings conform to the findings of the content analysis data and provide a validation of a self-reported measure of media exposure, as well as evidence suggesting a threshold below which news coverage may not generate public knowledge about cancer prevention.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Bibliometrics
  • Consumer Health Information
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / etiology
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Newspapers as Topic*
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk Reduction Behavior*