Interpreting risk messages: Women's responses to a health story
Heggs, D. A.
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Risk communication is an integral part of modern health care and is often high on news agendas having news values such as negativity. Recently concern has been raised by the government, the academic community and journalists themselves about the way risk is reported (Harrabin et al. 2003 Harrabin R Coote A Allen J 2003 Health in the News: Risk, Reporting and Media Influence (London, King's Fund) ). Harrabin et al. (2003 Harrabin R Coote A Allen J 2003 Health in the News: Risk, Reporting and Media Influence (London, King's Fund) ) illustrate their argument for guidelines on reporting risk by analysing the content of recent media risk communications. The present study set out to evaluate the effect of a media risk communication on its audience by asking a large sample of women (176) how they responded to a media risk communication published in the national press. From this study a picture emerges of a process whereby many women experience an emotive response to risk and then attempt to defend themselves from any anxiety incurred. Altering risky behaviour is only one of many anxiety reduction strategies utilized by the women in this study. The way women respond to risk is mediated by the context in which the risk is experienced. Individual contexts such as age or personal experiences of the person receiving the message, the context of the message itself and the social context in which the message is received interplay to influence the way individuals respond.
Health Risk & Society
(2005) Health Risk & Society, 7 (2), pp.107-121
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