HeCoRe (Health Communication Regimes: Meaning, contest and power) studies how media representations of health and medicine are constructed, change over time and varies across countries. Never before have we had access to such plethora of information about health. Stories of miraculous recoveries and revolutionary treatments abound, along with reports of malfunctions, scandals, and threatening epidemics. Medical advances are continuous, health management invades daily life and the costs of ambitious health policies involve tough priorities. The media provide a vital communication structure that shapes how health and illness are conveyed, what voices and perspectives are heard and how health policies and priorities are grounded and legitimated. The ability to adapt to media, to construct, pitch, and stage stories of health and illness, represent vital tools for actors seeking to influence health policies and priorities, consumers and markets. Health and medicine involve huge capital assets and a conglomerate of stakeholders. Individual patients, interest groups, medical professions, health authorities and pharmaceutical industry, communicate through the media to influence how illness, health and medical treatment are defined, understood, organized and prioritized. This project analyzes (i) how representations of health and illness have changed in the last 50 years, (ii) what characterizes dominant health reporting internationally, and (iii) how the dominant stories and genres of the media impact power relations, policies and perceptions of health. The project is based on international cooperation, is interdisciplinary and employs historical, statistical and ethnographic methods to study the role and power of media communication of health.
So far, data and analysis points to significant historical changes in the way health is discussed and presented in the media. The concept of health encompasses a range of new conditions and aspects of life, and health involves many different strategies to avoid illness, for the individual but also for society at large. Further, the assumption of the importance of strategic communication and media attention for various actors within the health field today is largely confirmed. The project finds that human interest stories about personal experience with diseases plays a key role where the aim is to attract attention, build support and advocate for changes in health policy and priorities. Actors who are able to adapt to the dramaturgy and logic of the media stands a better chance to get through in the media, and thereby build support, change the political agenda and impact health priorities. Some stories, patients and diseases ?sell? better than others, while others, such as elder patients and chronic conditions remain in the media shadow. The focus of some cases rather than others, take the form of market transactions between organizational actors and the media, labeled ?A Human Interest Economy. Our historic analysis of the coverage of health in the media confirms this picture: While medical experts and government elites almost totally dominated the coverage of health before, the last decades have seen the raise of the patients in the media. However, young people are over-represented, and women appear more often in the role as patient than men do. A central finding is that mental health has come to dominate in health news compared to other types of illnesses, this in contrast to a recent past, when mental illness were surrounded by stigma and very little covered in the media. This bias with regard to gender and age is also found in the comparative studies of European and US Media. Our comparative analysis of health coverage in different Western countries further suggest that media coverage to some extent mirrors the health system in a country, where countries such as the UK and Norway to an extra degree focus on the quality of health services and the responsibility of government and politicians when quality are falling behind of expectations. However, health news are politicized across countries, including the US and more so that the existing literature would suggest. Finally, our studies into what it means to share personal experiences of illness in the media show that many patients are motivated by an idealistic aim to help others with the same affliction. Some do also point to a healing potential in being open about personal health challenges. We do also find that media experiences are not allways positive, sometimes they even have an adverse impact on health for those who disclose personal information. We conclude that there is a need for increased awareness and ethical considerations both within the mass media, interest groups and health institutions involved in media and news production.
Vi har utviklet tverrfaglig samarbeid (medievitenskap, historie og medisin) og via samarbeid med Nasjonalbiblioteket utviklet stordata-analyse. Prosjektet har ansatt og veiledet en PhD-student som har disputert. Vi har engasjert vitenskapelige assistenter samt utvidet samarbeidet med flere tilknyttede forskere. Vi har skaffet kunnskap av relevans for interessegrupper på helsefeltet, formidlet gjennom medieoppslag og en konferanse med mange interessegrupper. Å bidra med kunnskap om hvordan denne delen av demokratiet fungerer er et langtidsarbeid der målgruppene er publikum generelt og aktører på helsefeltet spesielt. For å nå flere har vi publisert artikler på norsk og levert en rapport til et NOU-utvalg om lokalhelse. Vi har satt fokus på de mest sårbare pasientene som står fram i mediene. Her har vi en dialog med NRK som ønsker å lære mer. Vi arbeider videre med å bevisstgjøre helseinstitusjoner som er med i medieproduksjoner om hvilket helse-etiske ansvar dette medfører
The media fundamentally affect how people perceive themselves and the surrounding world; how key societal institutions function; and how democracy works. Today, media stories on health and illness are omnipresent across multiple media platforms, and never before have we had access to such plethora of information about health. Stories of miraculous recoveries and revolutionary treatments, but also of malfunctions, scandals, and threatening epidemics, in a time of ever-higher life expectancy and unprecedented medical and technological progress. Heroes and villains, sufferers and survivors, whose stories of life and death, affect each and everyone of us ? our fears, hope and sense of justice. The present project studies how these stories are mediated, and whether some voices, narrative forms of authority and presentations of health and illness in the media, what we coin communication regimes, are privileged over others. The ability to adapt to the favored communication regimes, to construct, pitch, and stage stories of health and illness, represent vital tools for actors seeking to influence health policies and priorities, consumers and markets. Health and medicine involve huge capital assets and a conglomerate of stakeholders, ranging from individual patients to interest groups, medical professions, health authorities and pharmaceutical industry, communicate through the media to influence how illness, health and medical treatment are defined, understood, organized and prioritized. Based on an international, tightly integrated multi-method design, this interdisciplinary project will track the changes in the media discourse on health and illness over time, study the powerful interests behind it, capture the emerging repertoires of media health communication regimes across countries and media platforms, and theorize how these communication regimes condition knowledge, meaning and power in the health sector and broader society.