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Health News and Responsibility

How Frames Create Blame


Lesa Hatley Major and Stacie Meihaus Jankowski

Who the public blames for health problems determines who the public believes is responsible for solving those health problems. Health policies targeting the broader public are the most effective way to improve health. The research approach described in this book will increase public support for critical health policies. The authors systematically organized and analyzed 25 years of thematic and episodic framing research in health news to create an approach to reframe responsibility in health news in order to gain public support for health policies. They apply their method to two of the top health issues in world—obesity and mental health—and conclude by discussing future research and plans for working with other health scholars, health practitioners, and journalists.

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Chapter Five: The Integrated Process of Framing: An Approach to Organize and Evaluate


chapter five

The Integrated Process of Framing: An Approach to Organize and Evaluate

Existing Research and Plan for Future Research

The quantitative content analysis of the research conducted on thematic and episodic frames in health news provides a broad overview of how these frames have been studied for more than 25 years. We believe our findings, while beneficial to the field, are incomplete. We wanted to conduct research to assist communication researchers, public health researchers, and practitioners who view news framing as a way to persuade the public that policy solutions can improve public health.

To us, this meant examining the whole process of episodic and thematic framing in health news—the role of journalists (constructing frames) and those who influence news frames (internal and external) and framing effects on audiences, especially the support of policy and behavior change. As we thought about how to follow through on this idea, we decided applying an integrated process of framing approach would be the best way for us to accomplish the overall goal—evaluating the whole framing process involving the creation and effects of thematic and episodic frames.

The integrated framing approach is not only an evaluative tool for us, but an organizational one as well. Adapting the integrated approach as a way to understand existing research on thematic and episodic frames allows us to organize existing research and evaluate it in a complete framing process. While this undertaking offers theoretical knowledge,...

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