Publication Abstract

Authors: Mello S, Tan AS

Title: Who's Responsible? Media Framing of Pediatric Environmental Health and Mothers' Perceptions of Accountability.

Journal: J Health Commun 21(12):1217-1226

Date: 2016 Dec

Abstract: How the media frames issues of environmental health may affect mothers' views of who is responsible for addressing environmental risks to pediatric health and, ultimately, their protective behaviors. This article describes how information-oriented media sources attribute responsibility for such risks and examines associations between mothers' routine media exposure, or scanning, and perceptions of responsibility. First, a content analysis was conducted on a sample of 474 media stories (i.e., Associated Press, parenting magazines, and websites) about childhood exposure to environmental chemicals over a 6-month period (September 2012-February 2013). We found that media stories attributed responsibility most frequently to parents, though significant differences were observed across media sources, such that websites focused more on parents and general news more on government agencies and manufacturers. Next, we conducted an online survey of mothers (N = 819) and revealed that website scanning during the prior 6 months was significantly associated with perceived personal responsibility, even after we adjusted for potential confounders. Scanning general news was also significantly associated with perceived government and manufacturer responsibility. Understanding media framing of these issues highlights opportunities for health communicators to offset pressure placed on mothers by encouraging greater social and policy support in and exposure to certain media.