Content analysis of press coverage during the H1N1 influenza pandemic in Germany 2009–2010

Husemann S, Fischer F (2015)
BMC Public Health 15: 386.

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Background The H1N1 influenza pandemic occurred in Germany between April 2009 and August 2010. Pandemics often lead to uncertainty amongst the public and so risk communication on health-related issues is one of the key areas of action for health authorities and other healthcare institutions. The mass media may contribute to risk communication, so this study analysed press coverage during the H1N1 pandemic in Germany. Methods A comprehensive analysis of the press coverage during the H1N1 pandemic was conducted in two steps. First, a temporal analysis was carried out of newspaper articles over the entire course of the pandemic, a total of 15,353 articles. The newspaper articles were obtained from the database Nexis. The total number of articles about the influenza pandemic during each individual week was plotted against the number of incident influenza cases during that week. Second, a quantitative content analysis of 140 newspaper articles from selected dates was conducted. Results This study indicates that media awareness seems to be strongly related to the actual situation in the pandemic, because changes in the number of infected people were associated with nearly identical changes in the number of newspaper articles. Few articles contained information on the agent of the influenza or support measures. Information on vaccination was included in 32.9% of all articles. Almost half of the articles (48.6%) used case reports. Fear appeals were used in only 10.7% of the newspaper articles; 32.9% of the articles contained the message characteristic “self-efficacy”. Conclusions The newspaper articles that were analysed in the content analysis included different information and message characteristics. The extent of information provided differed during the pandemic. As current research indicates, the use of message characteristics such as fear appeals and self-efficacy, which were also included in the analysed newspaper articles, can help to make health messages effective.
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Article Processing Charge funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and the Open Access Publication Fund of Bielefeld University.
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Husemann S, Fischer F. Content analysis of press coverage during the H1N1 influenza pandemic in Germany 2009–2010. BMC Public Health. 2015;15: 386.
Husemann, S., & Fischer, F. (2015). Content analysis of press coverage during the H1N1 influenza pandemic in Germany 2009–2010. BMC Public Health, 15: 386.
Husemann, S., and Fischer, F. (2015). Content analysis of press coverage during the H1N1 influenza pandemic in Germany 2009–2010. BMC Public Health 15:386.
Husemann, S., & Fischer, F., 2015. Content analysis of press coverage during the H1N1 influenza pandemic in Germany 2009–2010. BMC Public Health, 15: 386.
S. Husemann and F. Fischer, “Content analysis of press coverage during the H1N1 influenza pandemic in Germany 2009–2010”, BMC Public Health, vol. 15, 2015, : 386.
Husemann, S., Fischer, F.: Content analysis of press coverage during the H1N1 influenza pandemic in Germany 2009–2010. BMC Public Health. 15, : 386 (2015).
Husemann, Sabine, and Fischer, Florian. “Content analysis of press coverage during the H1N1 influenza pandemic in Germany 2009–2010”. BMC Public Health 15 (2015): 386.
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PMID: 26528909

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