What Does Cancer Treatment Look Like in Consumer Cancer Magazines? An Exploratory Analysis of Photographic Content in Consumer Cancer Magazines
In an exploratory analysis of several highly circulated consumer cancer magazines, the authors evaluated congruency between visual images of cancer patients and target audience risk profile. The authors assessed 413 images of cancer patients/potential patients for demographic variables such as age, gender, and ethnicity/race. They compared this profile with actual risk statistics. The images in the magazines are considerably younger, more female, and more White than what is indicated by U.S. cancer risk statistics. The authors also assessed images for visual signs of cancer testing/diagnosis and treatment. Few individuals show obvious signs of cancer treatment (e.g., head scarves, skin/nail abnormalities, thin body types). Most images feature healthier looking people, some actively engaged in construction work, bicycling, and yoga. In contrast, a scan of the editorial content showed that nearly two thirds of the articles focus on treatment issues. To explicate the implications of this imagery-text discontinuity on readers' attention and cognitive processing, the authors used constructs from information processing and social identity theories. On the basis of these models/theories, the authors provide recommendations for consumer cancer magazines, suggesting that the imagery be adjusted to reflect cancer diagnosis realities for enhanced message attention and comprehension.
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Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: Department of Communication, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky, USA
Publication date: 2011-04-01