Navigation Links
News In Red and Blue: How Messages About Social Factors and Health Can Backfire
Date:10/16/2009

ANN ARBOR, Mich., Oct. 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Here's a health idea that Democrats and Republicans agree on: when given information on the genetic factors that cause diabetes, both parties equally supported public health policies to prevent the disease.

But a study designed by the University of Michigan showed Republicans were less supportive of such policies after reading news reports that people with diabetes got their illness because of social or economic factors in which they live, such as lack of neighborhood grocery stores or safe places to exercise. The social factors increased Democrats' support.

The study will appear online Thursday ahead of its December publication in the American Journal of Public Health.

"When people are given the same information they can come away with very different opinions," says Sarah E. Gollust, Ph.D., a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania who worked on the study during her doctoral work at U-M.

Increasing public awareness of social factors that impact health may not uniformly increase public support for action because some groups simply do not believe they are credible, authors write.

"Policymakers and journalists should be aware that social values influence people's opinions about health policy, and certain messages in the media might trigger these values," she says.

The findings contribute to evidence that Americans' opinions about health policy are polarized by political party lines, according to the study.

Gollust designed the study with Paula Lantz, Ph.D., a social epidemiologist and chair of the Department of Health Management and Policy at the U-M School of Public Health and Peter A. Ubel, M.D., professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan and director of the U-M Center for Behavioral and Decision Sciences in Medicine.

Study participants viewed news articles about type 2 diabetes on the Internet and then answered questions about their opinions on health policy and their attitudes about people with diabetes.

When each viewed an article on the links between social and neighborhood factors and diabetes, 32 percent of Democrats agreed with social factors' role on health compared to 16 percent of Republicans.

"If you are more liberally minded the 'neighborhood explanation' can be motivating, but for people who are more conservative politically, that message can backfire and make them even less interested," says Ubel. "The same information can polarize people."

Diabetes was merely used as an example of a common health issue.

While type 2 diabetes is associated with health behaviors, such as poor diet, lack of physical activity and obesity, these behavioral factors can be influenced by social and economic factors such as living in an unhealthy neighborhood. Scientists have also identified numerous genetic variants that increase susceptibility to type 2 diabetes.

So why focus on social factors? The goal of framing health matters according to social factors is increasingly used to shift attention to non-medical strategies to improve health. The media also commonly discuss the prevalence of social factors when describing health issues, but few studies have been devoted to whether it shifts public opinion.

"The problem is these messages aren't going to have the same effect on all people," Ubel says.

The authors do not suggest that news media avoid reporting on social factors. Rather, advocates who want to mobilize the public to support public health policies might consider disseminating information to the media about both social factors and individual behavioral causes to avoid triggering resistance.

"Advocacy groups need to be very careful in thinking about who their audience is and what framing will work best for that audience," Ubel says. "Media should do a richer job of helping people understand each of these different causes."

Authors: Sarah E. Gollust, Ph.D., Paula M. Lantz, Ph.D., and Peter A. Ubel, M.D.

Citation: American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 99, No. 12, December 2009

Funding: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholars Program at the University of Michigan and at the University of Pennsylvania, the U-M Center for Behavioral and Decision Sciences in Medicine, and the University of Michigan Rackham Predoctoral Fellowship.

Resources: U-M Center for Behavioral and Decision Sciences http://www.cbdsm.org/

U-M School of Public Health Department of Health Management and Policy http://www.sph.umich.edu/hmp/

This news release was issued on behalf of Newswise(TM). For more information, visit http://www.newswise.com.

SOURCE University of Michigan Health System


'/>"/>
SOURCE University of Michigan Health System
Copyright©2009 PR Newswire.
All rights reserved

Related medicine news :

1. Med Students Posting Unprofessional Messages: Survey
2. Messages of Love Jewelry Adds Personalized Gift Ideas
3. Both Patients and Physicians Most Frequently Recall Roches Boniva Messages and Link Them to the Sally Field Osteoporosis Campaign
4. MessageSolution Enterprise Email Archive Named Top Exchange Archiving Solution by Leading Exchange Site MSExchange.org
5. Messages Heard Better in the Right Ear
6. No Matter the Vehicle, Sending Text Messages While Driving Increases Risk of Accidents, Warns New York Auto Accident Lawyer
7. Concussion Experts: For Kids - No Sports, No Schoolwork, No Text Messages
8. Concussion experts: For kids -- no sports, no schoolwork, no text messages
9. Schools and Cities Send 9.7 Million Messages During Swine Flu Outbreak with Blackboard Connect(TM) Platform
10. MessageSolution Email and File Archive Enterprise Suite Wins Network Products Guide Reader Trust Award for Best Products and Services in Enterprise Archiving Category
11. MessageSolution Releases Email & File Archive Enterprise Suite with SharePoint Archiving at Microsoft TechEd North America 2009
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/24/2017)... ... March 24, 2017 , ... ... its innovative EcoQube Frame vertical micro-veggies garden on Kickstarter . Surpassing the ... product – with nearly 2,000 consumers (and counting) already backing the campaign. ...
(Date:3/24/2017)... County, NY (PRWEB) , ... March 24, 2017 , ... ... Somers and White Plains, N.Y., is pleased to announce Westchester resident Lauren C. Enea ... a law clerk for the firm, will concentrate her practice in elder law, Medicaid ...
(Date:3/24/2017)... , ... March 24, 2017 , ... ... first Certified Medical Reiki™ Master in Frederick, MD. Judy says, “I am passionate ... during what is often a very difficult and challenging time.” , A Certified ...
(Date:3/24/2017)... ... March 24, 2017 , ... “The Communion of ... people of God in congregations across the United States. “The Communion of ... in 1964 who has served congregations in seven states throughout his long career ...
(Date:3/23/2017)... ... March 23, 2017 , ... The physicians of KSF Orthopaedic Center PA ... Area. The new location is located at 2255 E. Mossy Oaks Rd., Suite 440, ... newest location will provide patients living in the north Houston area (The Woodlands, Conroe, ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:3/24/2017)... , Mar. 24, 2017 Research ... Management in the U.S.: Consumer Strategies" report to their ... ... how adults approach and treat their physical pain, emphasizing consumer ... distinct groups: pain sufferers and adults who have selected illnesses/conditions ...
(Date:3/24/2017)...   The Accreditation Council for Medical Affairs ... the pharmaceutical industry has appointed Dr. Jane ... formed scientific advisory board. Dr. Chin will be ... ever medical affairs think tank within the pharmaceutical ... ACMA, please visit  www.medicalaffairsspecialist.org .  Connect with ...
(Date:3/24/2017)... FinancialBuzz.com News Commentary  ... According to new data published Arcview ... legal cannabis market is projected to continue to grow at ... the current presidential administration. The report created by Arcview,s data ... growth in this industry are the passage and subsequent implementation ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: