Mass media


All major outlets distributing information across a variety of formats including television, print, radio and online. Mass media can facilitate targeted health campaigning or can contribute indirectly. The trend towards developing an online presence as well as the traditional newspaper or TV channel demonstrates a move towards the immediacy of web based communications.


  • A Cochrane review shows that despite poor primary research mass media does have some importance in health interventions
  • Polycystic ovary condition radio 4 web chat with expert Prof. Stephen Franks
  • Smoking cessation is an area where mass media campaigns have had a positive effect
  • Channel 4’s Jamie’s school dinners raised awareness about children’s diets
  • Times online health section on website compliments print version
  • Daily mail weight loss advice chat with diet doctors
  • Popular programmes such as Eastenders and Coronation Street sometimes address health related issues both within stories such as this award winning mental health example , and in terms of additional helpline information provision given on programme websites and on TV.
  • Celebrity-centred campaigns can help raise awareness and dispel myths around illness such as Magic Johnson’s HIV campaign in the USA or Lynn Faulds Wood’s bowel cancer campaign in the UK
  • Television phone-ins and features such as those seen on This Morning or Richard and Judy provide focused advice on health topics with an expert present to answer questions.
  • BBC website provides health information

Benefits and advantage

  •  “The main advantage of TV is its mass audience, its mass audience plus celebrity whether you like it or not”  Interviewee
  • TV is a powerful and accessible medium which can be accessed easily
  • Integration of formats including websites, TV, radio and print can create very high awareness of specific issues
  • Different formats and presentation styles can reach different groups more effectively
  • Health and wellness information can be highlighted without seeming too official or dictatorial

Risks and disadvantages

  • Can tend to focus on sensational rather than more mundane but important aspects of health and wellness
  • Accuracy of information reported or focused on must be maintained at a high standard or mass misinformation will result




Armchair Involvement Guide 2009 

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