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Coverage of Jade Goody's cervical cancer in UK newspapers: a missed opportunity for health promotion?

Hilton S, Hunt K - BMC Public Health (2010)

Bottom Line: This study examines the content of newspaper articles covering her illness to consider whether 'mobilising information' which could encourage women to adopt risk-reducing and health promoting behaviours has been included.The 'human interest' aspects of Goody's illness (her treatment, the spread of her disease in later months, her wedding, and her preparations for her children's future) were more extensively covered.Newspaper coverage of Goody's illness has tended not to include factual or educational information that could mobilise or inform women, or help them to recognise early symptoms.

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Affiliation: MRC Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, 4 Lilybank Gardens, Glasgow, UK. shona@sphsu.mrc.ac.uk

ABSTRACT

Background: It has been claimed that publicity surrounding popular celebrity Jade Goody's experience of cervical cancer will raise awareness about the disease. This study examines the content of newspaper articles covering her illness to consider whether 'mobilising information' which could encourage women to adopt risk-reducing and health promoting behaviours has been included.

Methods: Content analysis of 15 national newspapers published between August 2008 and April 2009

Findings: In the extensive coverage of Goody's illness (527 articles in the 7 months of study) few newspaper articles included information that might make women more aware of the signs and symptoms or risk factors for the disease, or discussed the role of the human papilloma virus (HPV) and the recently introduced HPV vaccination programme to reduce the future incidence of cervical cancer. For example, less than 5% of articles mentioned well-known risk-factors for cervical cancer and less than 8% gave any information about HPV. The 'human interest' aspects of Goody's illness (her treatment, the spread of her disease in later months, her wedding, and her preparations for her children's future) were more extensively covered.

Conclusions: Newspaper coverage of Goody's illness has tended not to include factual or educational information that could mobilise or inform women, or help them to recognise early symptoms. However, the focus on personal tragedy may encourage women to be receptive to HPV vaccination or screening if her story acts as a reminder that cervical cancer can be a devastating and fatal disease in the longer term.

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Aligning key events in Jade Goody's cancer story with newspaper articles (n=527)
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Figure 1: Aligning key events in Jade Goody's cancer story with newspaper articles (n=527)

Mentions: Figure 1 aligns key events in Goody's cancer story with the total number of articles month by month over the study period and shows a marked increase in the number of articles in February 2009 after her cancer was reported to have spread and become terminal. The largest number of articles appeared in March 2009 when she married, was christened alongside her two young children, and died, again emphasizing the power of the 'human interest' side of such stories.


Coverage of Jade Goody's cervical cancer in UK newspapers: a missed opportunity for health promotion?

Hilton S, Hunt K - BMC Public Health (2010)

Aligning key events in Jade Goody's cancer story with newspaper articles (n=527)
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC2909165&req=5

Figure 1: Aligning key events in Jade Goody's cancer story with newspaper articles (n=527)
Mentions: Figure 1 aligns key events in Goody's cancer story with the total number of articles month by month over the study period and shows a marked increase in the number of articles in February 2009 after her cancer was reported to have spread and become terminal. The largest number of articles appeared in March 2009 when she married, was christened alongside her two young children, and died, again emphasizing the power of the 'human interest' side of such stories.

Bottom Line: This study examines the content of newspaper articles covering her illness to consider whether 'mobilising information' which could encourage women to adopt risk-reducing and health promoting behaviours has been included.The 'human interest' aspects of Goody's illness (her treatment, the spread of her disease in later months, her wedding, and her preparations for her children's future) were more extensively covered.Newspaper coverage of Goody's illness has tended not to include factual or educational information that could mobilise or inform women, or help them to recognise early symptoms.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: MRC Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, 4 Lilybank Gardens, Glasgow, UK. shona@sphsu.mrc.ac.uk

ABSTRACT

Background: It has been claimed that publicity surrounding popular celebrity Jade Goody's experience of cervical cancer will raise awareness about the disease. This study examines the content of newspaper articles covering her illness to consider whether 'mobilising information' which could encourage women to adopt risk-reducing and health promoting behaviours has been included.

Methods: Content analysis of 15 national newspapers published between August 2008 and April 2009

Findings: In the extensive coverage of Goody's illness (527 articles in the 7 months of study) few newspaper articles included information that might make women more aware of the signs and symptoms or risk factors for the disease, or discussed the role of the human papilloma virus (HPV) and the recently introduced HPV vaccination programme to reduce the future incidence of cervical cancer. For example, less than 5% of articles mentioned well-known risk-factors for cervical cancer and less than 8% gave any information about HPV. The 'human interest' aspects of Goody's illness (her treatment, the spread of her disease in later months, her wedding, and her preparations for her children's future) were more extensively covered.

Conclusions: Newspaper coverage of Goody's illness has tended not to include factual or educational information that could mobilise or inform women, or help them to recognise early symptoms. However, the focus on personal tragedy may encourage women to be receptive to HPV vaccination or screening if her story acts as a reminder that cervical cancer can be a devastating and fatal disease in the longer term.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus