The Importance of Media in Framing Public and Political Debates About NCDs

Hilton, S. , Weishaar, H., Dorman, L., Hawkins, B., Fruedenberg, N. and Smith, K. (2016) The Importance of Media in Framing Public and Political Debates About NCDs. 9th European Public Health (EPH) Conference, Vienna, Austria, 9-12 Nov 2016. p. 51. (doi:10.1093/eurpub/ckw165.026)

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Background: For the first time in history non-communicable diseases (NCDs) now pose a greater health burden than communicable infectious diseases and the media play a crucial role in framing public and policy debates about the causes of, and solutions to, NCDs. While the literature suggests that media debates should be a key concern for those interested in understanding public health policy processes, as yet there has been only limited research into the role of the media in the development of public opinion, advocacy, and policy in this area. This paper presents the findings from a scoping review which aimed to identify gaps in current research on media representations of industries that contribute to NCD risk and how media representations might be shaping public and political opinion. Methods: We searched Web of Science, Medline, Embase, and Google Scholar for three NCD debates, considering how alcohol, processed food and tobacco industries have been represented in the media. Results: Our findings indicate that: (i) limited research that has been undertaken, 61 studies over the last 30 years, mainly dominated by tobacco studies; (ii) comparative research across industries/risk-factors is particularly lacking; and (iii) coverage tends to be dominated by two contrasting frames (market justice and social justice). Conclusions: Media studies that investigate how media debates on NCD risk and policy are important for having a more nuanced understanding of the complex ways in which media representations of unhealthy commodity industries are shaped by, and contribute to shaping, public, corporate and political discourses. We conclude by identifying future research that would provide a crucial resource for those seeking to develop a common policy agenda to reduce NCD-related harm, and enhance public health advocates’ abilities to use the media to promote effective public health policy.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item
Additional Information:Abstract published in European Journal of Public Health v. 26, Suppl. 1
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Hilton, Professor Shona and Weishaar, Dr Heide
Authors: Hilton, S., Weishaar, H., Dorman, L., Hawkins, B., Fruedenberg, N., and Smith, K.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
Published Online:04 November 2016
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