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The Role of Magazines

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 May 2001

Cheryl A. Moyer
Consortium for Health Outcomes, Innovation, and Cost-Effectiveness Studies (CHOICES)
Leilanya O. Vishnu
Consortium for Health Outcomes, Innovation, and Cost-Effectiveness Studies (CHOICES)
Seema S. Sonnad
University of Michigan Health System


Objectives: We were interested in health coverage in women's magazines in the United States and how it compared with articles in medical journals, women's health interests, and women's greatest health risks.

Methods: We examined 12 issues of Good Housekeeping (GH) and Woman's Day (WD) and 63 issues of the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) and the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). We tallied the most common health questions of women presenting to the University of Michigan's Women's Health Resource Center (WHRC) during the same period.

Results: Less than a fifth of the magazine articles dealt with health-related topics. Of those, a third dealt with diet, with the majority emphasizing weight loss rather than eating for optimal health. Few of the articles cited research studies, and even fewer included the name of the journal in which the study was published. In JAMA and NEJM, less than one-fifth of original research studies dealt with women's health topics, most commonly pregnancy-related issues, hormone replacement therapy, breast and ovarian cancer, and birth defects. At the same time, the most common requests for information at the WHRC related to pregnancy, fertility, reproductive health, and cancer.

Conclusion: The topics addressed in women's magazines do not appear to coincide with the topics addressed in leading medical journals, nor with women's primary health concerns or greatest health risks. Information from women's magazines may be leading women to focus on aspects of health and health care that will not optimize risk reduction.

Research Article
© 2001 Cambridge University Press

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