Media coverage and public reaction to celebrity cancer diagnosis

An article published in the Journal of Public Health last month studied increased public interest in disease prevention following celebrity diagnoses.  A British research group studied the case of Reality TV personality Jade Goody (pictured) who died in March 2009 from cervical cancer. The study looked at newspaper coverage of Ms. Goody’s illness and the extent to which articles conveyed public health messages and public information-seeking behavior as a reflection of increased awareness of the disease.  The article recommended that “Health promoters not rely on the popular, mainstream media to maximize the public health potential of celebrity illness” but instead “react promptly to celebrity diagnoses to maximize public health opportunities.” Furthermore, because “celebrity illness can lead to increased online searching for health information, this reaction should include making timely, effective and reliable advice available to online health information seekers.” That’s what we do at Celebrity Diagnosis every day. Also check out our stories on MedPageToday.

Mark Boguski, M.D., Ph.D. is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and is a member of the Society for Participatory Medicine, "a movement in which networked patients shift from being mere passengers to responsible drivers of their health" and in which professional health care providers encourage "empowered patients" and value them as full partners in managing their health and wellness.

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