Attitudes and Perceptions of the General Population regarding the Role of the Mass Media in the Provision of Information on Health-related Issues

Background: The mass media play a crucial role in imparting information on health issues; individual and population attitudes are greatly influenced by the media regarding the prevention and overall management of disease. Aim: To investigate the attitudes and perceptions of the general population regarding the role of the mass media in the provision of information on various health issues. Method: A cross-sectional research study was conducted with a study population sample of 83 men and 117 women all residing in the Greater Athens area. The data collection was performed from January to March 2010 with the use of a specially designed questionnaire comprising 20 questions. The content of the questionnaire was based on relevant international bibliography, and the questions, the majority of which were closed, were formulated in such a way as to investigate several aspects, ad specifically: the level of influence of the mass media in informing the general population on health related issues, the preferences of the general population regarding the various ways of provision of information used by the mass media, the health related topics that the mass media explore in their programmes and the main sources of information on health related issues. The statistical analysis of the data was conducted with the test Pearson x2 (significance level p<0.05) using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) v. 15.0. Results: Of the study population 10% reported using the mass media as their main source of information on health related issues. The majority of the sample also indicated that more broadcasts on health issues are needed. Specifically, 86% of the sample indicated that TV programmes on health related issues should be broadcast more often, and fewer responders that more inserts on health topics should be included in newspapers and magazines. In addition, some responders mentioned the use of internet and radio as sources of information on health related issues. The percentage of the sample with a primary or secondary education that indicated that the mass media influences in a meaningful way the preferences of the population regarding disease prevention and treatment (73.5%) was considerably lower than that of those with higher education (87.1%) (p=0.015). The percentage that valued the broadcast programmes on nutrition, was higher among those with personal health problems (p=0.005). Conversely, those who pinpointed the need for more inserts on health related issues in newspapers and magazines reported less personal health related problems (p=0.018, p=0.001, respectively). Conclusions: The mass media initiatives on providing information on health related issues were considered limited and fragmental by the study participants. They expressed the need for more and better information on health related issues in the mass media. The development of a central agency to plan, broadcast and audit programmes on health related issues is recommended, to ensure that public trust is gained, and that health related information is imparted in an appropriate way.

Category: Volume 51, N 1
Hits: 615 Hits
Created Date: 15-03-2012
Authors: Marianna Diomidous , Nikolaos V. Fotos , Dimitrios Zikos , Evlambia Kostarelou