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The European Journal of Communication Research

Ed. by Averbeck-Lietz, Stefanie / d'Haenens, Leen

IMPACT FACTOR 2018: 0.707
5-year IMPACT FACTOR: 1.151

CiteScore 2018: 0.86

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.460
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.580

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Volume 19, Issue 2-3


Artikel: Health Information Dissemination in the Information Age: Media, Messages and Roles

Rolf T. Wigand / Hans-Dieter Klee
Published Online: 2016-10-11 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/comm-1994-2-308


Understanding the priorities and workings of the mass media are a prerequisite to gaining the attention of the media and, more importantly, the cooperation of those who control access to media space and time. In addition, one needs to understand information and news filtering and gate-keeping functions carried out by the media. It is also essential to understand the interplay between reporters and their news sources and the fact that both entities have their specific priorities and agenda. In the United States of America the media’s behavior may be viewed and understood, at least in part, as the journalistic performance and exercise in the principles of the First Amendment within the Constitution. Simultaneously though the media are part of the free enterprise system, implying that they are a business whose primary motivation is to maximize profits and minimally to survive as an organization. The media, however, are not in the business of health care, medicine or public health. This contribution characterizes the health information setting in the United States of America. Relevant research has demonstrated that in the process of gaining health information by the consumer, food producers can be highly successful in influencing food-purchasing behavior and thus may have an influence on health and eating behavior. Among the issues addressed here are scientific alarmism, information confusion, disinformation, misinformation and the often resultant paradoxical behavior exhibited by the public. The knowledge gap-hypothesis is explored with regard to its appropriateness in this setting. Researchers found that short, unequivocal and positive media messages - so-called magic bullets - addressing single and relatively simple behaviors can be highly effective and that whatever advice is given should be uncomplicated and negative elements associated with the message should be avoided.

It is important for scientists, medical experts and nutritionists, the media and food producers to realize that they all play a vital role in achieving broad-scale health behavior. They need to cooperate and work together to produce a set of clear, consistent, focused and positive messages based on current scientific knowledge and trends. Only then can such recommendations be communicated, understood and acted upon by the public. It is especially important to educate and inform children properly about the appropriate judgement and analysis of advertised messages pertaining to health and eating behavior questions.


Zunächst wurde das Problem der Sprache als Information oder Desinformation, als Motivation oder Demotivation diskutiert. Es wurde darauf hingewiesen, daß die Informationsvielfalt gewachsen, die Informiertheit des Verbrauchers gestiegen und gleichzeitig seine Verwirrung zugenommen habe. Das läge einerseits daran, daß Massenkommunikation nicht mit Kommunikation im Sinne eines Wechselgespräches mit Rückmeldung gleichzusetzen sei und andererseits, daß der Verbraucher je nach Absender der Information zu unterschiedlichen Verhaltensweisen aufgefordert werde. Es wurde die These vertreten, daß Informationen zu Verhaltensänderung allein nicht ausreichen, sondern daß es eines zusätzliche sozialen Drucks (Beispiel: Rauchen) bedürfe.

Ein weiterer Diskussionsschwerpunkt beschäftigte sich mit der Frage nach dem Zugang zu Information: werden interaktive Medien die Individualkommunikation fördern? Ein gesellschaftlicher Trend zur Individualisierung und Heterogenisierung, eine hieraus resultierende Zunahme von special-interest-Kategorien scheint dafür zu sprechen, deren notwendige Finanzierung durch länderübergreifende Zielgruppen und dementsprechende Sprachbarrieren eher dagegen. Daneben dürfe das menschliche Ur-Bedürfnis nach personaler Kommunikation nicht unterschätzt werden. Insofern sei der Arzt nach wie vor wichtigster Kommunikator von Gesundheitsthemen. Es wurde auch von positiven französischen Erfahrungen mit „Minitel“ (Btx in Deutschland) bei der Kommunikation von Gesundheitsthemen berichtet.

About the article

Published Online: 2016-10-11

Published in Print: 1994-01-01

Citation Information: Communications, Volume 19, Issue 2-3, Pages 209–236, ISSN (Online) 1613-4087, ISSN (Print) 0341-2059, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/comm-1994-2-308.

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