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Type: Thesis
Title: An analysis of Australian print and television media coverage of the public health message ‘alcohol causes cancer’
Author: McDonough, Joshua Henry
Issue Date: 2016
Abstract: Introduction: Alcohol is a class-1 carcinogen and is a modifiable risk factor for cancer, but public awareness of the link remains low. News media is a common and accessible source of health information in Australia, and influences public opinion and policy agenda. It is important to analyse how the alcohol causes cancer message is re-presented, as this may inform public health advocacy and identify needs and potential strategies for raising awareness through health promotion. This is the first study to compare both print and broadcast news media within this context. Methods: 1502 print articles and 96 broadcast stories published in Australia between 2005 and 2013 were located through the Factiva and Australian Health News Research Collaboration databases. Summative content analysis and descriptive statistics were used to examine the prominence and content of all stories. Thematic analysis was used to identify recurring themes and frames within stories that focused on the link between alcohol and cancer. Results: CONTENT: Most print articles were published within the main/first section of the newspaper, with half on odd pages. 95% of articles included the claim that alcohol is carcinogenic, with 5% suggesting it was either non-carcinogenic or preventative for cancer, and 1% including discussion of both. Over time, the ratio of carcinogenic to non-carcinogenic/preventative articles increased. Half of the print database consisted of stories that had been repeated. Most commonly, articles cited ‘alcohol’ as a generic descriptor while mentioning a specific type of cancer. Organisations connected to cancer were the most frequent authority source mentioned within both sets of data. In the broadcast data, stories most commonly appeared on evening news programs. 95% of the stories stated that alcohol causes cancer, with 5% suggesting alcohol is both carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic. More than half of the broadcast stories were repeated stories. THEMATIC: The alcohol causes cancer message was often framed as shocking. Connections were made between alcohol and cigarettes as both a consumable, and a public health concern. The evidence for the link between alcohol and cancer was framed as either convincing or insufficient, with differing implications drawn regarding the roles and responsibilities of health authorities. Conclusion: Information regarding the link between alcohol and cancer is available within the Australian media, but is often obscured by discussion of other health issues. Improved collaboration between health promoting organisations and journalists may facilitate greater accuracy and prominence of the alcohol causes cancer message.
Advisor: Eliott, Jaklin Ardath
Dissertation Note: Thesis (BHlthSc(Hons)) -- University of Adelaide, School of Public Health, 2016
Keywords: alcohol
media analysis
mixed methods
content analysis
thematic analysis
Provenance: This electronic version is made publicly available by the University of Adelaide in accordance with its open access policy for student theses. Copyright in this thesis remains with the author. This thesis may incorporate third party material which has been used by the author pursuant to Fair Dealing exceptions. If you are the owner of any included third party copyright material you wish to be removed from this electronic version, please complete the take down form located at:
DOI: 10.4225/55/589bbfd2a4b5b
Appears in Collections:School of Public Health

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