Changes in coverage of sun protection in the news: Threats and opportunities from emerging issues.

Scully, M., Makin, J., Maloney, S., & Wakefield, M. (2014). Changes in coverage of sun protection in the news: Threats and opportunities from emerging issues. Health Education Research, 29(3), 378-387.

This study aimed to determine whether there have been shifts in news coverage of sun protection issues over a 12-year period in the context of an evolving skin cancer prevention agenda. A content analysis was performed on all relevant articles (N = 552) published in the two metropolitan daily newspapers in Melbourne, Australia, from 2001 to 2012. Coding variables included theme, article type, prominence, spokesperson and topic slant. Articles were collapsed into three 4-year blocks and a series of chi-square analyses conducted to examine changes over time in coverage of topical issues (i.e. vitamin D and sunbeds) and established sun protection themes [i.e. health effects of ultraviolet (UV) exposure, education/prevention, attitudes/behaviour]. Coverage of vitamin D and sunbed issues increased over time and became more positive for sun protection objectives. The proportion of articles reporting on established sun protection themes remained steady over time (range: 36–38%) and there were no changes observed in the way these topics were presented in the news media. These results highlight that potentially competing sun protection issues that emerge over time need not pose a threat to existing skin cancer prevention programmes but instead can provide opportunities to further spread programme messages while increasing credibility. 

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