Communicating population health: Print news media coverage of type 2 diabetes

Sarah E. Gollust, Paula M. Lantz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


The public learns much about health and health policy from the news media. The news media can shape the public's opinions about issues by emphasizing certain features in their coverage, such as the causes of a problem, who is responsible for addressing it, and what groups are affected. This study examines media framing of the problem of type 2 diabetes, focusing on the extent to which the news media discuss diabetes using features that characterize a population health orientation (mentioning social determinants, upstream interventions, or disparities). We collected data from 698 print news articles appearing in 19 U.S. newspapers between 2005 and 2006. Results demonstrate that the predominant explanation for type 2 diabetes was behavioral factors and obesity. The predominant strategy to address diabetes was individualized behavior changes and medical care. A minority of articles described the social determinants of diabetes, upstream policy solutions, and disparities in diabetes; such articles appeared in a select subset of news outlets. These findings suggest the potential for great variability in public awareness of disparities in diabetes or its social determinants, with implications for the public's likelihood of supporting policies that may improve population health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1091-1098
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 2009
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the excellent research assistance of Nonie Hamilton and Emily Glover. We also acknowledge Renée Anspach, Scott Greer, Nicholas Valentino, and Peter Ubel for their feedback on the manuscript. Funding for this research was provided from a small grant from the University of Michigan Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholars program, and we thank the Robert Wood Johnson Health & Society Scholars Program for its financial support.

Copyright 2009 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Content analysis
  • Diabetes
  • Health inequalities
  • Media
  • Population health
  • USA


Dive into the research topics of 'Communicating population health: Print news media coverage of type 2 diabetes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this