Consumption of health information in the media: A replication study
SourceCommunications, 26, 3, (2001), pp. 267-283
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ NISCO CW
Mass media seem the appropriate means to inform as many people as possible about health and health risks. For purposes of prevention, it is important to know the specifics of the people you can reach best through the mass media. In a previous study (Van der Rijt, 1998) it was found that interest in, or active avoidance of health information were the most important factors to explain whether one exposes oneself to health information in the mass media or not. Therefore, not the actual experiencing of health problems, but interest guides exposure. On the other hand, the factors interest and avoidance, were explained by different sets of predictors with some results contrary to expectations. In order to test explanations for discrepant findings and some untested assumptions in the former study as well as to test the explanatory model with improved measurement instruments, a replication study was conducted using a representative sample (N=824) of the adult Dutch population (18 to 70 of age) comparable to the former study. The central research question was: Which factors determine the exposure to health information in the mass media? Although roughly the same results could be established, some additional as well as some contradictory findings emerged compared with the former study. Not interest in but avoidance of appears to be the main determinant. A preventive orientation has a positive influence on interest (as was found in the former study), but a negative (direct) influence on exposure (contrary to the former study). As suggested in the former study, avoidance of health information could be explained, to a large extent, by the belief that health information is of little use and by the fear that health information in the media may contain threatening information. These two factors, uselessness of such information and fear of threatening information, appear to have also an independent direct but reverse effect on exposure to health information.
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