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Mass media sources for breast cancer information: their advantages and disadvantages for women with the disease

Charlotte E. Rees (Behavioural Sciences Section, Division of Psychiatry, Queen’s Medical Centre Nottingham NG7 2UH)
Peter A. Bath (Sheffield Institute for Studies on Ageing (SISA), Community Sciences Centre Northern General Hospital, Sheffield S5 7AU)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 1 June 2000



This study, conducted in 1997, aimed to explore in depth the views and experiences of women with breast cancer concerning diseaserelated mass media information. Three age‐stratified, unstructured focus group discussions were convened with thirty women with breast cancer (n = 11, 12 and 7). The discussions were audiotaped and transcribed in full and the transcripts were analysed using theme analysis. A number of themes concerning mass media breast cancer information were identified. Women sought and paid attention to information from a variety of mass media sources, including medical books and journals, leaflets, videotapes, women’s magazines, newspapers and television programmes. Mass media information was thought to possess a number of advantages. In particular, participants viewed mass media sources such as magazines and television as helpful in raising breast cancer awareness in the general population. Mass media information, however, was also viewed as having a number of disadvantages. For example, once diagnosed, participants thought that mass media sources such as magazines were frightening and depressing owing to their often negative and sensationalised nature. This finding was particularly worrying as women with breast cancer looked for and were often ‘drawn’ to such communication vehicles. To conclude, mass media information has advantages and disadvantages and its impact upon individuals may depend on their disease status. It is important that editors of mass media sources such as women’s magazines are aware of this dichotomy and are prepared to provide accurate, factual and less dramatised breast cancer information.



Rees, C.E. and Bath, P.A. (2000), "Mass media sources for breast cancer information: their advantages and disadvantages for women with the disease", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 56 No. 3, pp. 235-249.




Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

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