Advanced search

Caught in the cycle of medicine? Do journalists frame health-related issues as medicalized problems or do they point at the patient's self-responsibility?

Author
Organization
Abstract
The recent years, we’ve noticed that the media dedicate considerable attention to health-related issues as cancer, dementia, ADHD, and the use of medication (medicalization frame). They also focus on topics that link health issues with lifestyle variables as sports and exercising habits, or as food and dietal programs (self-responsibility frame). From that, we notice a double perspective (Dunwoody, 2008; Fahy & Nisbet, 2011). This health sociology ideology can be linked to a journalism studies perspective arguing that health journalism appears to be inextricably bound up with a focus on (the use of) medication. Bauer (1998) and Weingart (2001) identify this with the ‘medicalization of health news’. Nonetheless, this provokes criticism (Peters et al, 2008; Secko et al, 2013) stating that journalists represent health in a very limited amount of frames, often connected to the cycle of hype (Downs, 1972; Conrad, 2007; Shih, Wijaya & Brossard, 2008). According to Caulfield (2004), journalists tend to simplify health and illness-related information this way by omitting complex information and simplifying medical realities (Nelkin, 1987; Weigold, 2001; Allan, 2011). Despite the importance of a correct framing of health by traditional media brands, academic research on this topic is rather scarce (Bucchi & Mazzolini, 2003; Dunwoody, 2008; Picard & Yeo, 2011). The focus of our research lies on five main research questions (RQ1) Which topics, concerning health, receive more attention in the news? Do we notice a trend towards ‘soft’ health news, fait divers and lifestyle, or ‘hard’ health news? (RQ2) Which frames appear more in the news thus confronting the medicalization frame vs the frame of self-responsibility? (RQ3) Does health journalism focus on a curative vs a preventive frame? (RQ4) Is the focus of health related issues on classical vs alternative health medicalization perspectives? (RQ5) Which frames connected to the cycle of hype is most often used in health journalism (new evidence, conflict, uncertainty, action, consequence or reassurance)? To answer these questions, we opted for a research design that combined a quantitative content analysis of the news in 21 popular weeklies and women’s magazines and 7 popular and quality newspapers, with a qualitative framing component. We content-analyzed health news in Belgian newspapers within the period January 2014 to March 2014, being able to select more than 400 articles. Our content analysis also focused on health news in popular weeklies and women’s magazines between March 2013 and June 2013, where we were able to select 1422 items. We studied the published version of the articles without access to the metadata of the texts. Our first results show us that there is a tendency towards a medicalization trend in health-related issues, although the strength of this finding depends strongly on the type of medium. Not only is there a difference between popular and quality newspapers, the domain of magazines appears to be a world on its own where self-responsibility is more strongly apparent than in the domain of newspapers, although both illustrate the dominance of medicalization. When looking at the frames linked to the cycle of hype, we notice a more differentiated view on the different types of media, often depending on the health topic that is reported.
Keywords
magazines, framing, medicalization, health journalism

Citation

Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:

Chicago
De Dobbelaer, Rebeca, and Karin Raeymaeckers. 2014. “Caught in the Cycle of Medicine? Do Journalists Frame Health-related Issues as Medicalized Problems or Do They Point at the Patient’s Self-responsibility?” In European Communication Research and Education Association, Abstracts.
APA
De Dobbelaer, R., & Raeymaeckers, K. (2014). Caught in the cycle of medicine? Do journalists frame health-related issues as medicalized problems or do they point at the patient’s self-responsibility? European Communication Research and Education Association, Abstracts. Presented at the European Communication Research and Education Association.
Vancouver
1.
De Dobbelaer R, Raeymaeckers K. Caught in the cycle of medicine? Do journalists frame health-related issues as medicalized problems or do they point at the patient’s self-responsibility? European Communication Research and Education Association, Abstracts. 2014.
MLA
De Dobbelaer, Rebeca, and Karin Raeymaeckers. “Caught in the Cycle of Medicine? Do Journalists Frame Health-related Issues as Medicalized Problems or Do They Point at the Patient’s Self-responsibility?” European Communication Research and Education Association, Abstracts. 2014. Print.
@inproceedings{5756043,
  abstract     = {The recent years, we{\textquoteright}ve noticed that the media dedicate considerable attention to health-related issues as cancer, dementia, ADHD, and the use of medication (medicalization frame). They also focus on topics that link health issues with lifestyle variables as sports and exercising habits, or as food and dietal programs (self-responsibility frame).  From that, we notice a double perspective (Dunwoody, 2008; Fahy \& Nisbet, 2011). This health sociology ideology can be linked to a journalism studies perspective arguing that health journalism appears to be inextricably bound up with a focus on (the use of) medication. Bauer (1998) and Weingart (2001) identify this with the {\textquoteleft}medicalization of health news{\textquoteright}. Nonetheless, this provokes criticism (Peters et al, 2008; Secko et al, 2013) stating that journalists represent health in a very limited amount of frames, often connected to the cycle of hype (Downs, 1972; Conrad, 2007; Shih, Wijaya \& Brossard, 2008). According to Caulfield (2004), journalists tend to simplify health and illness-related information this way by omitting complex information and simplifying medical realities (Nelkin, 1987; Weigold, 2001; Allan, 2011). Despite the importance of a correct framing of health by traditional media brands, academic research on this topic is rather scarce (Bucchi \& Mazzolini, 2003; Dunwoody, 2008; Picard \& Yeo, 2011). The focus of our research lies on five main research questions (RQ1) Which topics, concerning health, receive more attention in the news? Do we notice a trend towards {\textquoteleft}soft{\textquoteright} health news, fait divers and lifestyle, or {\textquoteleft}hard{\textquoteright} health news? (RQ2) Which frames appear more in the news thus confronting the medicalization frame vs the frame of self-responsibility? (RQ3) Does health journalism focus on a curative vs a preventive frame? (RQ4) Is the focus of health related issues on classical vs alternative health medicalization perspectives? (RQ5) Which frames connected to the cycle of hype is most often used in health journalism (new evidence, conflict, uncertainty, action, consequence or reassurance)? 
To answer these questions, we opted for a research design that combined a quantitative content analysis of the news in 21 popular weeklies and women{\textquoteright}s magazines and 7 popular and quality newspapers, with a qualitative framing component. We content-analyzed health news in Belgian newspapers within the period January 2014 to March 2014, being able to select more than 400 articles. Our content analysis also focused on health news in popular weeklies and women{\textquoteright}s magazines between March 2013 and June 2013, where we were able to select 1422 items. We studied the published version of the articles without access to the metadata of the texts. Our first results show us that there is a tendency towards a medicalization trend in health-related issues, although the strength of this finding depends strongly on the type of medium.  Not only is there a difference between popular and quality newspapers, the domain of magazines appears to be a world on its own where self-responsibility is more strongly apparent than in the domain of newspapers, although both illustrate the dominance of medicalization. When looking at the frames linked to the cycle of hype, we notice a more differentiated view on the different types of media, often depending on the health topic that is reported.},
  author       = {De Dobbelaer, Rebeca and Raeymaeckers, Karin},
  booktitle    = {European Communication Research and Education Association, Abstracts},
  language     = {eng},
  location     = {Lisbon, Portugal},
  title        = {Caught in the cycle of medicine? Do journalists frame health-related issues as medicalized problems or do they point at the patient's self-responsibility?},
  year         = {2014},
}