Hollywood & Health: Health Content in Entertainment Television
While the American public obtains content in a multimedia environment ranging from so called old media like newspapers to new media like blogs and online social networks, television maintains the ability to reach millions of people with relative ease. Popular primetime television’s primary purpose is to entertain the audience, but it also has the ability to convey messages about serious issues. To understand television’s ability to inform the public and to examine the health content on entertainment shows, the Kaiser Family Foundation released two studies.
In order to document how well viewers learn health information from entertainment television, the Foundation worked with writers at Grey’s Anatomy to embed a health message in an episode, and then surveyed viewers on the topic before and after the episode aired. The study included three national random-digit-dial telephone surveys of regular viewers of the show, conducted one week before, one week after, and – to test retention of the information – six weeks after the target episode aired.
The Foundation and the USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center’s Hollywood, Health & Society examined three seasons (2004-2006) of top-ten-rated prime time scripted shows to measure the prevalence of health content on entertainment shows and to categorize the type of health content on prime time television.
The reports were released at a forum in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, September 16, 2008, featuring a panel discussion.