Ovarian cancer and women's magazines: A content analysis of articles. Fact and optimism or fiction and pessimism?




Tamasy, Marguerite Alex

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The purpose of this study was to explore the articles (n = 22) in women's magazines, pertaining to ovarian cancer and determine if they contained information of a conceptual, educational and optimistic nature. The Health Belief Model was the theory utilized, focusing on the concepts of susceptibility, severity and threat. The review of the literature detailed research pertaining to ovarian cancer, the health Belief Model and the role of media in health education. Content analysis was the method. A dictionary and coding sheet was developed. A pilot study was conducted. Statistical analysis revealed moderate to high correlation for the two sets of scores indicating the coding sheet to be reliable. Validity was established by consulting experts in theory, cancer and content analysis. The sample included twenty-two articles that were electronically retrieved from nine of the tope women's magazines. The findings found one of the seven hypotheses pertaining to the level of threat and recommended health seeking activities to be positively correlated at a level of .86. This result indicated that the articles in the women's magazines that were reviewed, conceptually provided the necessary threat to prompt women to seek care and balance this information with recommended resources. Research supports this approach (Kash et al., 2000). Reputable leaders in gynecology/oncology as well as personal accounts were used as sources of reference. Eighteen of the twenty-two articles were completely accurate. Inaccuracies pertained to reports of scientific studies, statistics and treatment. The term “silent killer” appeared in four articles. Magazines appear to apply the research that negates this term (Goff et al., 2000). Optimism was balanced by pessimism. Recommendations include replicating this study utilizing a larger sample and possible revision of the coding tool for other diseases. The role of the health educator as an evaluator of health information was reviewed.



Health and environmental sciences, Health benefits, Ovarian cancer, Women's magazines