Journalism as health education: media coverage of a nonbranded pharma web site.


OBJECTIVE As healthcare consumers increasingly use the Internet as a source for health information, direct-to-consumer (DTC) prescription drug advertising online merits additional attention. The purpose of this research was to investigate media coverage of the joint marketing program linking the movie Happy Feet and the nonbranded disease education Web site FluFacts-a resource from Tamiflu flu treatment manufacturer Roche Laboratories Inc. MATERIALS AND METHODS Twenty-nine articles (n = 29) were found covering the Happy Feet-FluFacts marketing campaign. A coding guide was developed to assess elements of the articles, including those common in the sample and information that ideally would be included in these articles. Two coders independently coded the articles, achieving intercoder agreement of κ = 0.98 before resolving disagreements to arrive at a final dataset. RESULTS The majority of articles reported that Roche operated FluFacts (51.7%) and mentioned the product Tamiflu (58.6%). Almost half (48.3%) reported FluFacts was an educational resource; yet, no articles mentioned other antiviral medications or nonmedical options for preventing the flu. Almost a quarter of the articles (24.1%) provided a call to action-telling readers to visit FluFacts or providing a link for them to do so. CONCLUSIONS Findings suggest that journalists' coverage of this novel campaign-likely one of the goals of the campaign-helped spread the message of the Happy Feet-FluFacts relationship, often omitting other useful health information. Additional research is needed to better understand online DTC campaigns and how consumers react to these campaigns and resulting media coverage and to inform the policymakers' decisions regarding DTC advertising online.

DOI: 10.1089/tmj.2010.0127

Cite this paper

@article{Mackert2011JournalismAH, title={Journalism as health education: media coverage of a nonbranded pharma web site.}, author={Michael S Mackert and Brad Love and Avery E Holton}, journal={Telemedicine journal and e-health : the official journal of the American Telemedicine Association}, year={2011}, volume={17 2}, pages={88-94} }