News coverage of genetics

Completed 2016

What are the characteristics of genetics-related health news stories published in Black newspapers, and can we identify features of genetics stories that increase interest and understanding among African Americans?
A growing number of genetics research findings are being gathered from genetic studies such as the Human Genome Project and the International HapMap Project. It is important to examine how diverse populations and news audiences interpret this information and how it may influence behavior change and guide decision-making.
In a content analysis of 357 genetics-related health stories from a sample of 24 Black weekly newspapers and 12 general-population newspapers, we found that genetics stories in Black newspapers were more likely to include content about family history and the importance of knowing one’s family history. Those stories were also more likely to include recommendations for high-risk populations, to build confidence in prevention or screening behaviors, to discuss disparities, and to refer readers to resources. Genetics stories in general-population newspapers were more likely to contain the term “genetics” in the headline and in the story, have a high degree of genetic determinism, discuss health outcomes with genetic links, and discuss genetic testing.
We are set to launch a randomized experiment in which 296 African Americans will read mock news headlines and news articles about genetic risk, then answer questions about their interest in the stories, emotional reactions, trust in the information presented, personal relevance, ease of understanding, and accuracy of knowledge acquired. These activities are scheduled to be completed by June, 2011.