Internet Information-seeking Behaviors of TV Medical Drama Viewers

Tuesday, March 11, 2008: 3:15 PM
International Ballroom South
Kathy Le, MPH , Hollywood, Health & Society, USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center, Beverly Hills, CA
Michelle Cantu, MPH , Hollywood, Health & Society, USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center, Beverly Hills, CA
Varian Brandon, BARCH, MMC , Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA
Michael Miller, MPH , National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD
Brooke Hardison Wang, MPH , National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD
Grace Huang, MPH , Hollywood, Health & Society, USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center, Beverly Hills, CA

Hollywood, Health & Society (HH&S) is a project at the University of Southern California Annenberg Norman Lear Center that provides entertainment industry professionals with accurate and timely information for health storylines. Funded by the CDC, the project understands the impact that entertainment media have on individual awareness and behavioral change. In recognition of the shift to complementary media formats, and trying to take advantage of an opportunity to reinforce the impact of public health storylines on television dramas, HH&S has extended the outreach of public health information by providing links to be posted on selected television show home pages. Viewers can access the information at any time.

-- Examine the behavior of viewers' Internet information-seeking in response to FOX's medical drama, House.
-- Determine which television health topics encourage further information-seeking on the Internet.

Each week, throughout the 2006-2007 television season, HH&S provided health-related Web links for posting to a dedicated page on the House Web site. CDC measured the traffic to these links as well as from sources outside of the dedicated Fox page.

On the day after the airing of an episode, the number of Web hits to the CDC links on chlamydia, syphilis and bacterial vaginosis increased dramatically. An increase in traffic to the same sexual health topics from non-Fox sources occurred during the hour the episode aired. This suggests real-time information-seeking beyond the medical show's Web site.

STD topics in television formats prompt viewers to seek further information on the Internet.

-- The impact of providing accurate information in television and in online formats emphasizes the significance of beneficial relationships between public health and entertainment.
-- The information-seeking behavior of television viewers demonstrates the shifting capacity of prevention messages towards new and emerging media formats.