|Year : 2014 | Volume
| Issue : 1 | Page : 33-37
Oral health information in English newspapers: A content analysis study
Anuradha S Bandiwadekar, Namita Shanbhag, Manjunath P Puranik
Department of Public Health Dentistry, Government Dental College and Research Institute, Fort, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
|Date of Web Publication||18-Aug-2014|
Anuradha S Bandiwadekar
Tatyasaheb Kore Dental College and Research Centre, New Pargaon, Kolhapur - 416 137 Maharashtra
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
Background: Mass media has been an important source of health information to the general public. Especially, newspapers have the advantage of providing a variety of information to a broad range of age groups, with wide regional coverage, both in urban and rural areas. Aim and Objective: The aim was to assess the quantity and quality of oral health information in leading 5 English newspapers published in Bangalore city, Karnataka. Materials and Methods: An electronic survey was conducted using archives of five electronic English newspapers published in 2012-2008. Oral health content was retrieved from these newspapers with appropriate key words. A specially designed scale was used to evaluate the information published in these newspapers. Level score index was used for the overall qualitative analysis of all information. In this regard, descriptive statistics was computed. Results: The articles published in 5 years were 266. In which 25.9% articles were on dental caries, 27.8% with periodontal diseases, 40.6% with oral cancer, 2.3% with malocclusion, and 4.5% with fluorosis. The accurate quality of oral health information in these newspapers provided about 14.7%, whereas only 4.5% of the articles provided the take home message. Conclusions: Articles on oral health lacked accuracy and infrequently published. To fill up this gap Public health dentists should effectively utilize these newspapers to educate the people on oral health.
Keywords: Coverage, mass media, newspaper, oral cancer, oral health
|How to cite this article:|
Bandiwadekar AS, Shanbhag N, Puranik MP. Oral health information in English newspapers: A content analysis study. J Indian Assoc Public Health Dent 2014;12:33-7
| Introduction|| |
Mass media has been an important source of health information to the general public.  Oral health education to the public through mass media is often used as one of the public health action strategy to increase health promotion and disease prevention.  The communication media can be divided into electronic (e.g. television, radio) and print (e.g. newspaper and magazine) media. The mass media available both in domestic and public environments are an important social institution in any modern society and are the dominant features of our day to day life. The media have shown the power to direct attention of its readers toward certain issues. 
Newspapers have the advantages of providing a variety of information to a broad range of age groups, with wide regional coverage of both urban and rural areas.  Majority of the literate population can be reached through newspapers. It is effective and efficient to use the established local media like newspapers to disseminate the health messages to major communities as they were readily accessible and accepted by the anticipated recipients. 
Newspaper reading is a long lasting and prevailing habit even after the advent of the new media such as television and internet. In Indian newspapers, the maximum amount of coverage is given to political news reports. Advertisements related to some health related news do cover a lot of space either as a full page or half page.  The value of health news is always related to content and the manner it gets reported. Therefore, newspapers can still be one of the most important resources for disseminating health-related information and thus facilitating health-related behavior changes. Studies have identified an inaccuracy of coverage of the information with regard to health in general and oral health in specific. These health-related events in these newspapers are usually in the form of overstatement or understatement and also some without evidence.  There are not many studies that have analyzed the content of the oral health information published. Hence, this study is conducted to analyze the contents in terms of quality and quantity of the oral health literature published in the English newspapers of Bangalore city.
| Materials and Methods|| |
An electronic survey of e - edition newspapers was conducted to assess the quantity and quality (content) of oral health information published in the leading newspapers having the highest readership in Bangalore city using Google internet search engine. The five leading English newspapers identified were: The Times of India, Deccan Herald, Bangalore Mirror, The Hindu and The New Indian Express. These newspaper archives were searched for articles published on oral health content using the keywords such as oral health, dental health, oral cancer, mouth cancer, dental caries, periodontal disease, malocclusion, and fluorosis. Thus, the content analysis was done for a period of 5 years from December 31 st 2012 to January 1 st 2008.
A specially designed scale was developed that consisted of following categories: Target population, author, main topic and subtopics, quality of the content, text, picture, language and take home message [Table 1].
To evaluate the accuracy and correctness of each item within the respective category a score (0-2) was given to each information unit, score 2 being accurate, score 1 partially accurate and score 0 inaccurate.  To evaluate the overall qualitative analysis of all information, a level score index (LSI) was obtained using the following formula: LSI = Score '0' × percentage of information unit + Score '1' × percentage of information unit + Score '2' × percentage of information unit. 
Data were entered into a standard Microsoft Excel 2007 sheet. (Microsoft corporation Redmond, Washington, U.S.) The data was further analyzed by the SPSS no. 14 statistical package, SPSS Inc. Chicago, Illinois using simple descriptive statistics.
| Results|| |
Out of 9125 Bangalore 'e' edition English newspapers only 266 issues published information on oral health (2.91%). In these 266 issues, 22.6% published general oral health information, 18.4% published specific oral health information and 59% published general health including oral health information. About 96.6% of news targeted general population and only 3.4% targeted specific population (2.3% toward pregnant and 1.1% toward children).
About 4.5% of the information on oral health was contributed by the dental specialists while 47.4% by the anonymous authors [Table 2]. The majority of the oral health information in this present literature search was associated to oral cancer (40.6%), followed by periodontal diseases (27.8%) respectively [Table 3].
|Table 2: Frequency distribution of oral health information provided by authors |
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|Table 3: Frequency distribution of oral health information published in newspapers with regard to various oral diseases |
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With regard to oral cancer and fluorosis, most of the newspapers (83.33%) included the discussion of the etiology of diseases. Prevention was more likely to be included in the discussion of halitosis (75%), dental caries (69.56%) and periodontal disease (67.56%). With regard to smoking, more newspapers included the discussion of the clinical issues and statistics. Therapy was more likely to be incorporated in the discussion of malocclusion (50%) [Table 4].
Out of 266 issues 14.7% published accurate quality of information, 99.6% consisted of essential text and 6.5% essential pictures. Simple language was used in 99.6% of the newspaper and 4.5% provided take home message.
|Table 4: Frequency distribution of sub categories of oral health information published in newspapers with regard to various oral diseases |
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Overall qualitative assessment of the collected information using the LSI was 57.33% in this sample (227 × 1 + 39 × 2 = 305; the maximum possible score is 532) [Table 5].
| Discussion|| |
Health communication has been identified as a successful tool for promoting and improving health condition.  In a substantial body of the health communication literature, people make a common assumption that the major reason of health disparities is the lack of information due to communication inequalities. 
Mass media play significant roles in changing health-related beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors and in promoting knowledge among targets audience. Health information is an important part of health communication and health promotion. Freimuth et al.  stated that people seek health information from different types of resources, which are intrapersonal, interpersonal, and mass media. Freimuth et al.  have shown that many people rely on the news media for their health-related information. Policy makers also obtain a considerable amount of information from the media.  Bryant and Thompson  have suggested that news coverage of health matters has the potential to shape the impression of average citizens and powerful policy makers alike.
News coverage of health "tends to ascribe the power to control individuals' health to medical experts using high-technology equipment." 
It is important that newspapers should provide accurate information with a supportive evidence base on which the public can judge what is appropriate and which assists or supports correct and appropriate oral health behaviors. Large circulation, national wide coverage and home delivery were important characteristics of newspapers. 
In this survey, the information in Bangalore newspaper articles about oral health was reviewed. In a recent commentary, Watt et al.  indicated need for improving the quality of oral health promotion evaluation on future directions in oral health promotion. He considered that the measurement of information exposure as one of the important areas for evaluation. It is hence important for dental professionals to evaluate the type and quality of information about oral health, which is available to the general public through mass media in order to establish appropriate oral health promotion strategies.
The majority of the oral health information in this present literature search was related to oral cancer (40.6%), followed by periodontal diseases (27.8%). These results are in contrast with the study conducted by Noguerol et al. where majority of information was published on dental caries (77%), followed by periodontal diseases (33.53%) and cancer (5.29%). The LSI in this study obtained was 305 (representing 57.33% of the maximum possible score of 532) when compared to a score of 940 in a study conducted by Noguerol et al. (42.73% of the maximum possible score).
The newspapers also had relatively adequate inclusion of contextual information such as etiology and prevention methods in the coverage of oral health problems. However, with regard to oral cancer and fluorosis most of the newspapers included the discussion of the causes of diseases/conditions or risk factors than prevention methods. The discussion of causes is important because it helps the public to understand the underlying mechanism of the health problem. Yet from the perspective of public health, the discussion of preventive methods is as important, if not more important. It appears that the prevention was more likely to be included in the discussion of dental caries, periodontal disease and halitosis. The emphasis on treatment is reasonable from the patient's perspective. From the perspective of public health, however, the media should have put more emphasis on prevention methods.
In the present study, 4.5% of the information on oral health was contributed by the dental specialists. Whereas in a study conducted by Abe et al. the information on oral health was contributed by the researchers and dental practitioners. The limitations of this study include: Only Bangalore edition of English 'e' newspapers were searched. The method used for searching the articles was computer search.
| Conclusions|| |
The impact of health promotion can be made very powerful within the community with appropriate dissemination of health information through mass media especially newspaper.
The results of this study indicate that the literate Bangaloreans were exposed to various types of oral health information from general health practitioners, general dentists, and specialist dental practitioners and from other nonhealth professionals.
Also, this study indicated a need to increase the quantity and quality of oral health information delivered by the newspapers. Also, this study demonstrates that we are missing the "media boat." We need to make extensive effort to entice both of mass media and oral health professionals on a regular note to bring about a paradigm shift.
- Dental professionals and health promoters should be aware of the importance of media advocacy. They should educate and motivate newspaper health column writers to approach them for accurate information
- This study emphasizes the need to increase the use of mass media (newspaper) education. As an important public health action strategy in order to improve oral health promotion. And oral disease prevention
- Editors should have access to researchers, health practitioners and other key organizations to report health-related issues with accuracy with regard to the content published in newspapers.
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[Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4], [Table 5]