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A content analysis of news coverage of skin cancer prevention and detection, 1979-2002
Unformatted Document Text:  Skin cancer news coverage 17 mentioned that moles are a risk factor. Even when moles were mentioned, only 23.6% (23 of 96) reviewed the warning signs for melanoma. Risk communication Perceptions of risk are often an important motivation for adopting preventive behaviors (Witte, 1992; Weinstein, 1988) . While experts have yet to reach a consensus about reporting risks, which can be contextually dependent, there are some ideas about how mass media should communicate cancer risk, including distinguishing between absolute and relative risk (Maibach, 1999b, 1999a; Arkin, 1999; Kreuter, 1999; Ratzan, 1999; Weinstein, 1999; Fischhoff, Bostrom, & Quadrel, 1993; Weinstein, 1984) . Such a distinction would require that both absolute and relative risk be discussed in the same story. Absolute risk, the incidence of disease in a population, is often used to illustrate how common a condition is in a population. In contrast, relative risk is a measure indicating different risk levels for population sub-groups. Risk was discussed in 45.3% (399 of 880) of all stories. Discussions of risk included measures of absolute risk (61.1%, N = 399) about as often as relative risk (56.6%, N = 399). However, both absolute and relative risk were discussed in the same story only 24.8% of the time (Table 1). Table 1: Cross-tabulation of presence of absolute and relative risk 27 127 154 6.8% 31.8% 38.6% 146 99 245 36.6% 24.8% 61.4% 173 226 399 43.4% 56.6% 100.0% % of Total % of Total % of Total no yes absoluterisk Total no yes relative risk Total If stories were always presenting both absolute and relative risk, we would expect perfect agreement, with a Kappa = 1. In this case, Kappa is actually negative (Kappa = -.41, p< .001), because more often than not, stories present either absolute or relative risk, but not both.

Authors: Stryker, Jo. and Solky, Benjamin.
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background image
Skin cancer news coverage
17
mentioned that moles are a risk factor. Even when moles were mentioned, only 23.6% (23 of 96)
reviewed the warning signs for melanoma.
Risk communication
Perceptions of risk are often an important motivation for adopting preventive behaviors
(Witte, 1992; Weinstein, 1988)
. While experts have yet to reach a consensus about reporting
risks, which can be contextually dependent, there are some ideas about how mass media should
communicate cancer risk, including distinguishing between absolute and relative risk
(Maibach, 1999b, 1999a; Arkin, 1999; Kreuter, 1999; Ratzan, 1999; Weinstein, 1999;
Fischhoff, Bostrom, & Quadrel, 1993; Weinstein, 1984)
. Such a distinction would require
that both absolute and relative risk be discussed in the same story. Absolute risk, the incidence
of disease in a population, is often used to illustrate how common a condition is in a population.
In contrast, relative risk is a measure indicating different risk levels for population sub-groups.
Risk was discussed in 45.3% (399 of 880) of all stories. Discussions of risk included measures of
absolute risk (61.1%, N = 399) about as often as relative risk (56.6%, N = 399). However, both
absolute and relative risk were discussed in the same story only 24.8% of the time (Table 1).
Table 1: Cross-tabulation of presence of absolute and relative risk
27
127
154
6.8%
31.8%
38.6%
146
99
245
36.6%
24.8%
61.4%
173
226
399
43.4%
56.6%
100.0%
% of Total
% of Total
% of Total
no
yes
absolute
risk
Total
no
yes
relative risk
Total
If stories were always presenting both absolute and relative risk, we would expect perfect
agreement, with a Kappa = 1. In this case, Kappa is actually negative (Kappa = -.41, p< .001),
because more often than not, stories present either absolute or relative risk, but not both.


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