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Public Communication of Science and Technology


Evaluating health storytelling in ethnic media
A content analysis of U.S. spanish-language television programs

Holley A. Wilkin   Department of Communication, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA

Carmen Gonzalez   Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA

Latinos are at high risk for many health problems, yet they are often missed by traditional health communication campaigns that tend to rely on general audience channels. New immigrant Latinos living in Los Angeles indicate a strong connection to Spanish-language television for health and medical information, but the quality of health information provided through these channels has not been systematically evaluated. Grounded in communication infrastructure theory, a content analysis of Spanish-language television news and talk shows was conducted to examine the nature of health coverage provided. As a primary health source for the Los Angeles Latino community, Spanish-language television could serve an important role in helping the community overcome health disparities by connecting them to health resources (e.g., local organizations that help immigrants overcome health access barriers or classes about how to cook healthy foods in the U.S.) or other sources of health information where they can learn more about preventing or treating specific diseases. Our findings show that the programs analyzed are not doing an adequate job of connecting viewers to local health resources, other health information sources, or personalizing the information in such a way that may prompt interpersonal discussion about health topics. We discuss the aspects of Spanish-language television that contribute to the lack of locally-focused health stories and suggest ways to improve health storytelling through the networks.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.