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Public health and the media in California: a survey of local health officers.
  • Published Date:
    1994 Mar-Apr
  • Source:
    Public Health Rep. 109(2):284-289
  • Language:
    English
Filetype[PDF-1.28 MB]


Details:
  • Pubmed ID:
    8153280
  • Pubmed Central ID:
    PMCnull
  • Description:
    Increasingly, public health interventions are dependent on effective health communications. There are, however, few data examining the relationship and interactions between local public health officers and representatives of the media in the literature. This study sought to collect data on the quality and quantity of interactions between California's 62 local health officers and the media. A survey form was sent to the health officers representing all 58 county and four city health departments in the State of California to assess the extent of media interaction, the existence of institutional media policies, the professional and personal character of media relations, the perceived accuracy of media reporting, use of the media for health education and advocacy, the availability of training in media relations for staff members, and whether media interaction facilitated or impeded achievement of public health objectives. Differences in responses according to the population of the political jurisdiction also were assessed. With 87 percent of the health officers responding, 51 percent reported 10 years or more experience interacting with the media; 65 percent said they dealt with the print media mostly on a daily, twice weekly, or weekly basis. In only 19 jurisdictions were there written policies on media relations, but in 43, media releases undergo a pre-release review. Most health officers characterized media relations as reactive, and 80 percent said they were appropriate and had an educational impact. Media interactions were largely believed to be of benefit to the public and were not generally perceived as adversarial. Health officers were of the opinion that media representatives could become more technically and scientifically knowledgeable on public health issues but also indicated that they or their own public health staff would benefit from continuing education on managing media relations. Eighty-six percent stated that the media strongly or moderately facilitate the achievement of public health objectives. Further study of this important component of public health practice is warranted.

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