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Media ignores health consequences of drinking and driving among young celebrities
Date:4/22/2009

The recent drinking and driving (DUI) arrests of celebritiesParis Hilton, Nicole Ritchie, Michelle Rodriguez and Lindsay Lohanyielded widespread news coverage, however, very little of it offered any public health context, according to a new report by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health's Center for Injury Research and Policy. Analyzing stories reported by the New York Times, TIME, People and the evening news broadcasts from ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN and Fox, researchers found that only 4 percent of the reports made any mention of injury or potential injury from the DUI events. In 2005, alcohol-related crashes resulted in 16,885 deaths in the U.S. The results of the study will be published in the May 2009 issue of Alcohol & Alcoholism and is available on the journal's website in advance of the print publication.

"Media are an important source of information about the consequences of alcohol consumption, and influence how individuals define acceptable behavior," said Katherine Smith, PhD, lead author of the study and assistant professor with the Bloomberg School's Center for Injury Research and Policy. "While the celebrity DUI stories raised awareness of the issue of drinking and driving among young people, an opportunity to educate this audience on solutions to prevent DUI was missed." Previous research has demonstrated that medical-related celebrity news, such as reports of breast cancer, can motive the public to seek cancer screening services like mammography.

Smith, along with colleagues Denise Twum and Andrea Gielen, conducted a qualitative analysis of 150 print and 16 television news stories using a coding framework to capture main elements of relevant story content, e.g., placement of any mention of the DUI incident, mention of contributing factors or consequences of DUI, as well as any public health messages. The most frequently occurring topics found in the study sample were arrest, sentencing and going to/r
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Contact: Natalie Wood-Wright
nwoodwri@jhsph.edu
410-614-6029
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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