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Genes and Race in the News: A Test of Competing Theories of News Coverage

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Objectives: To examine newspaper coverage of race and genetics to identify patterns and possible explanations for them in extant theory in order to improve health promotion campaigns. Methods: Articles from Lexus-Nexus database fitting the search criteria were coded according to themes developed from the scientific literature and a prereading of texts. Results: Articles present an array of attitudes toward race and genetics. No existing theory explains this pattern. Conclusion: Because newspapers present both sides of the scientific debate, health promotion messages dealing with race, genetics, and medicine must address both sides of the debate in order to be effective.

Keywords: genetics; health; media; race

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5993/AJHB.30.2.2

Affiliations: 1: Department of Communication Studies, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN. 2: Department of Speech Communication, University of Georgia, Athens, GA.

Publication date: March 1, 2006

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  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.
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