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 Table of Contents    
LETTER TO EDITOR  
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 44  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 169-170
 

Health-related advertisements in print media: A content analysis


Department of Community Medicine, Mysore Medical College and Research Institute, Mysore, Karnataka, India

Date of Submission29-Aug-2018
Date of Acceptance07-Mar-2019
Date of Web Publication27-Jun-2019

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Jayashree Sajja
Department of Community Medicine, Mysore Medical College and Research Institute, Opposite KR Hospital, Irwin Road, Mysore - 570 001, Karnataka
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/ijcm.IJCM_271_18

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How to cite this article:
Manjunatha S N, Venkatesh Darshan A N, Sajja J. Health-related advertisements in print media: A content analysis. Indian J Community Med 2019;44:169-70

How to cite this URL:
Manjunatha S N, Venkatesh Darshan A N, Sajja J. Health-related advertisements in print media: A content analysis. Indian J Community Med [serial online] 2019 [cited 2019 Sep 18];44:169-70. Available from: http://www.ijcm.org.in/text.asp?2019/44/2/169/261518




Sir,

This era is considered to be an information age with exponential growth of mass media, viz., audiovisual, print, and social media.[1] In the Words of Cohen (1963), the media “may not be successful in telling their readers what to think, but are stunningly successful in telling their readers what to think about.”[2]

Some of the major threats which we are facing and can be curtailed by better health education are smoking, alcohol dependence, double burden of nutritional disorders, etc. Research has shown that there was a significant change in the way tobacco was viewed following exposure to mass media advertisements, regarding its harmful consequences.[3] According to a study by Bryant and Thompson in 2002, news coverage on health matters takes on considerable significance that has the potential to shape the impression of average citizens and policymakers alike.[4]

Advertisements are the most effective way of propagating any product or message across a large area which is evident from the large number of advertisements that we come across every day in television, radio, newspapers, websites, etc., Print media serves as one of the best modes for inducing health promotion among general public. Hence, we have studied the effect of advertisements in print media on the attitude and behavioral change among general public.

A content analysis method was done in Mysore city in June and July 2014 to study the nature, theme, timing of health-related advertisements printed in two widely read Kannada newspapers – Kannada Prabha and Prajawani newspapers, and later, a small sample of the target population, men and women aged 25–50 years, and reading the above-listed newspaper every day were interviewed to study their recall, understanding, and response patterns.

The following are the health awareness-creating advertisements printed in Kannada Prabha during the study:

  1. Importance of milk: This appeared once on June 1 as part of World Milk Day during the study. It appeared once in the first page and was sponsored by Karnataka State Government
  2. Importance of proper garbage disposal: This appeared once on June 2 as part of World Environment Day. It appeared in the last page and was sponsored by Karnataka State Government
  3. Importance of underground water conservation: This appeared thrice usually in the last page, during the 2 months, and was sponsored by Karnataka State Government
  4. Health insurance and coverage for workers: This appeared five times usually in the last page, during the 2 months, and was sponsored by Karnataka State Government.


Advertisements of health-related products ranked first followed by health news and health articles. The health awareness-creating advertisements were the least and ranked last in the order. There was a health page every Monday. Normally, it was half to three-fourth and dealt with various health-related problems issues and advertisements of health products and advertisements on various corporate hospitals and health clinics. The advertisements did cover a large chunk of space as they were either full page or half page advertisements on health-related issues, products, or hospitals. The number of letters about health issues in the “Letter to the Editor” column was very small, indicating the lack of attention of public and the press toward health issues [Table 1].
Table 1: Content analysis of health-related advertisements in newspapers

Click here to view


The following are the health awareness-creating advertisements that were printed in Prajawani during the study:

  1. Importance of milk: This appeared once on June 1 as part of World Milk Day during the study. It appeared once in the first page and was sponsored by Karnataka State Government
  2. Importance of proper garbage disposal: This appeared once on June 2 as part of World Environment Day. It appeared in the last page and was sponsored by Karnataka State Government
  3. Ragi and Jowar at subsidized rates: This advertisement highlighted the nutritional values of the grains. It appeared four times usually in the last page and was sponsored by Karnataka State Government
  4. Medical checkup for schoolchildren: This advertisement highlighted the importance of health checkup among schoolchildren. It appeared two times at the end of every month as a part of summary of educational activities by the government during that month. Both times, it appeared in the last page. Two celebrities Radhika Pandit (Kannada actress) and Puneeth Rajkumar (Kannada actor) also appeared in the advertisement. It was sponsored by Karnataka State Government.


From the above data, it can be seen that advertisements of health-related products ranked first followed by health news and health articles. The health awareness creating advertisements were the least and ranked last in the order [Table 1]. There was a health page every Saturday titled Bhoomika. Normally, it was half to three-fourth and dealt with various health-related problems, issues, and advertisements of health products and advertisements on various corporate hospitals and health clinics. The advertisements did cover a large chunk of space as they were either full page or half page advertisements on health-related issues, products, or hospitals.

According to the study by Gupta and Sinha[1] in 2010, health-related product advertisements were 47.59% in Dhainik Bhaskar and in The Tribune, where it was 49.50% in Kannada Prabha and 46.34% in Praja Vani in the present study. These mainly consisted of food products claiming to help obese people become lean, lean people to become muscular, and those that aid in sexual intercourse in our present study. This might be due to the increasing caution on physical appearance and the changing trend in the perception of people, who usually consider discussing about sex as a social taboo.

The number of advertisements raising awareness about health was less in the present study. The number of letters about health issues in the “Letter to the Editor” column was very small in all the newspapers, indicating the lack of attention of public and the press toward health issues. It was observed that health awareness-related advertisements appeared on significant days such as World Milk Day and World Environment Day. It would be better if they appeared every day or at least most of the days so that the advertisements become more effective in reaching people. The overall number of advertisements in present study is less compared to the study by Gupta and Sinha[1] because of the difference in the duration of the study as we considered their summer observations which consisted of May, June, and July, whereas our study duration was 2 months – June and July.

In our study, we interviewed 100 randomly selected outpatients attending KR Hospital. The average duration of reading newspaper was 1.45 h. It was found that 57% of the people paid attention to advertisements of which only two people could recall any health awareness-related advertisements which also points toward a possible lack of trust and liking toward advertisements most of which are sponsored by companies for a commercial purpose. Thus, more and more Government-sponsored advertisements must be printed along with the mention of the sponsorship which will help to gain the confidence of people in health advertisements.

With respect to the content analysis of health-related advertisements in newspapers, it was found that health-related product advertisements formed the major chunk of all advertisements. However, there were very few advertisements aimed at raising awareness. The major areas covered were importance of milk, proper garbage disposal, medical insurance coverage for workers, medical checkup for schoolchildren, and underground water conservation. These advertisements were either full or half page and appeared in the first or last page. They usually appeared on significant days such as World Milk Day and World Environment Day. It would be better if they appeared every day or at least most of the days so that the advertisements become more effective in reaching people.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
   References Top

1.
Gupta A, Sinha AK. Health coverage in mass media a content analysis. J Commun 2010;1:19-25.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Cohen B. The Press and Foreign Policy. Princeton, USA: Princeton University Press; 1963.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Wakefield M, Szczypka G, Terry-McElrath Y, Emery S, Flay B, Chaloupka F, et al. Mixed messages on tobacco: comparative exposure to public health, tobacco company- and pharmaceutical company-sponsored tobacco-related television campaigns in the United States, 1999-2003. Addiction 2005;100:1875-83.   Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Bryant J, Thompson S. Fundamentals of Media Effects. 1st ed. New York: McGraw-Hill; 2002.  Back to cited text no. 4
    



 
 
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