Research Areas

Health and Disease in Media Coverage

When it comes to issues of health risks, prevention, or health care, mass media are an important source of information for the general population. Mass media also facilitate a public discourse about the related social, political, and economic issues. Furthermore, health and disease are not only issues in information-oriented formats, but are picked up in entertainment media as well.

» In this research area we therefore investigate:

  • what coverage do different health topics and diseases get in the media and how do the issues develop over time?
  • how are the different aspects of health or disease portrayed in mass media?
  • what differences exist between the various media and between the existing formats?
  • what effects does media content have on health and disease?

Strategies for Health Communication

Various institutions and health players are constantly looking for ways to impact health attitudes and behaviors with communicative efforts and media strategies in their respective target populations. They are also interested in evaluating how effectively the implemented strategies have worked.

» We ask, for example:

  • how are health-related campaigns planned and evaluated?
  • how can different media channels and message strategies help to target certain populations?
  • which potentials and limits do the different ways of strategic placement and intervention have in terms of the impact they assert?
  • are social appeals superior to other frames and strategies in health communication?
  • what can a targeted media strategy contribute to preventive or therapeutic interventions and trainings?
  • how are relatives a target group by themselves in health communication?

Discourse and Information-seeking on Health Issues

People base their health-related decisions on very different information strategies. Some seek out information prior to deciding, do so very deliberately, and consult various sources on a specific health issue. These individuals like to exchange information about health and disease personally or through media. Others, in contrast, are not interested or even avoid information on health and disease topics.

» We investigate, for example:

  • which health-related topics are actively sought out, by whom and for whom, and which are not sought or purposefully avoided?
  • which communication channels are used for health information?
  • how does information processing work and how does it affect health decisions and behaviors?
  • to what degree do entertainment media have informational utility?
  • what forms of social support do users seek for health-related issues and what do they find on social networking sites?

Communication, Media Use and Health

Media use and communication habits in themselves can contribute to the formation or change of attitudes and believes that are relevant to our health. And they can do so independent of any specific content. Especially excessive media use cannot only lead to positive but also negative consequences for personal health and well-being.

» In our research projects we investigate:

  • at what point are mobile phone and mobile Internet usage considered problematic?
  • which circumstances do promote aggression in players of video games?
  • how can media use contribute to general well-being and improve health behaviors?

Last modified: 2024-03-15

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