ERIC Number: ED340072
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1991-Aug
Reference Count: N/A
Consulting with Media for Health Education: Some New Directions.
De Foe, James R.; Breed, Warren
A case study examined the cooperative consultation between a writer for the television serial "All My Children" and a health educator. The consultation spanned six years. The story of the alcoholic "Arlene" began to air on the serial in January 1991. Scenes involving Arlene were recorded. Consultation between the health educator and the serial writer occurred in person and on the telephone, and the frequency of contact was controlled by the need to discuss certain upcoming alcohol-related specifics on plot, character, and social environment. Seven "patterns" (recommendations regarding portrayals of alcoholism) used in such cooperative consultations were adopted by the industry, and aimed primarily to alert the industry to the major aspects of alcohol education. The case of Arlene demonstrates that the "All My Children" staff have captured the seven patterns and progressed to a new frame of reference. To realize the potential of the mass media in health education, at least two modalities can be used: cooperative consultation and health campaigns. As in the case of Arlene's story, health educators can enlarge and deepen the health message when working with the media, but their role is far from easy. Difficulties include how to: gain access; gain knowledge about practices institutionalized in the media; develop the ability to use the principles of cooperative consultation; and work with the entertainment media in telling stories. In regard to the first two difficulties, the health educator is advised: (1) that access will typically depend upon the educator's making the first moves, e.g., locating the specific medium, identifying reporters interested in health, having a project to suggest; and (2) that in order to become knowledgeable, the educator should make a careful study of media practices and preferences. In regard to cooperative consultation, certain basic principles must be observed, such as: no pressure is exerted by the health consultants; the relationship is collegial, not adversarial; controversy and ideology are avoided. In today's culture emphasizing healthy lifestyles, the cooperative consultation relationship is possible when three conditions are met: (1) the educator has a genuine interest in the media; (2) the media representative has a stake in the health issue; and (3) mutural respect and commitment are present. Finally, the media like health materials as story subjects, and the field of public health has a lot of material to offer. (Thirty-six references are attached.) (RS)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Research; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Inst. on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (DHHS), Rockville, MD.
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: All My Children; Communication Strategies; Health Communication; Media Responsibility
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Psychological Association (99th, San Francisco, CA, August 16-20, 1991).