Linking Health Promotion With Entertainment Television (American Journal of Public Health, July 1999)
The Johns Hopkins Health Institutions have developed 2 nationally syndicated health news series for television based on the content and storylines of NBC's "ER" and the CBS series "Chicago Hope." The health news segments are broadcast on the local news following each of the respective episodes and together reach an estimated 80 million Americans each week. Both efforts are designed to link scientific information and community resources as a means of educating and motivating viewers to take action on a series of important personal and public health topics.
The "Following ER" initiative is linked with the top-rated series, "ER" At its cornerstone is an informative 90-second health news segment that is distributed to local NBC news stations across North America over the NBC satellite. It is intended to instruct viewers on how to prevent the type of injury or disease portrayed in the weekly television drama or to explain a health issue portrayed in the show. The segment is produced each week through an exclusive partnership between the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, the NBC News Channel, the Kaiser Family Foundation, and "ER."
The initiative was created to harness the power and reach of a highly successful network television series. "ER" is the most watched show on television, seen by an estimated 35 million viewers each week, and it ranks among the most successful series in television history. "Following ER" had its debut on September 26, 1996, at the start of the second season of "ER"; it began broadcasting
locally in Maryland (population: 5094289) on NBC affiliate WBAL as part of a Johns Hopkins community service strategy. Today, the news segment reaches an estimated 5 million individuals across the United States each week. It is the first time in television's history that a top-rated entertainment series has been linked to a comprehensive and continuous multimedia educational effort.
For each episode, the writers at "ER" review the pertinent health stories with staff at the school and the Kaiser Foundation. Working together, they decide on the health theme for the week. For instance, an "ER" episode that dealt with teen pregnancy was followed by a segment featuring a teenaged boy who talked about making good choices about sex and contraception. This profile was followed by 10 tips on how to communicate well with teenagers about sex. Other topics have included violence prevention, gun safety, fetal alcohol syndrome, organ donation, doctor-patient communication, childhood cancer, nursing home care, HIV / AIDS, eating disorders, vaccinations, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, hypertension, advanced directives, prenatal care, general hygiene, informed consent, fire safety, glaucoma, alcoholism, depression, communicating with teens, testicular cancer, and health insurance. Repeat "ER" episodes are treated as new "Following ER" news segments and therefore enable some public healthtopics to be approached through different perspectives over time.
In addition to providing prevention strategies and health information to viewers via the television reporter and an on-camera expert, the segments make available resources of leading national organizations and Johns Hopkins experts for people who wish to receive more information on a particular public health topic. For example, the "Following ER" episode that dealt with hypertension
provided Internet hyperlinks and toll-free telephone numbers for both the National Heart Association and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Viewers can access more detailed information on a specific health topic immediately after each episode and throughout the week via a toll-free interactive voice response system audiotext service (1-888-4ER-5356). And viewers who have access to the Internet can view information on-line (http://er.jhsph.edu).
In its original form, "Following ER" was made possible through in-kind contributions that included employee time and production equipment. There was no budget for the production of the segment. The segment was produced by the NBC affiliate in Baltimore and was not regularly syndicated. It was treated as a local television news feature with expert content provided by Johns Hopkins. The motivation for the partners to make these contributions was that the segment proved to meet very specific needs. It helps the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health fulfill its ~ of bringing the latest information on how to prevent disease and injury to the public. The benefits to the local affiliates using the segment are several; for example, the segment generates additional interest among sponsors who might want to purchase television advertising, and "Following ER" has been shown to pull audiences straight from "ER" into the nightly news.
Beginning in its second year, the School of Public Health received funding from the Kaiser Family Foundation to produce the segment using an outside production company and to hire a full-time project coordinator. "Following ER" costs approximately $5000 per week to produce. Currently, WBAL receives sponsorship for the segment in Baltimore from the Rite Aid Corp, a drugstore chain in Camp Hill, Pa.
The Kaiser Family Foundation also funds an independent media research firm to conduct a survey of "Following ER" viewership each week in the top 75 television markets across the United States. The survey found, for example, that after the October 10, 1997. "ER" episode, which dealt with the public health issue of eating disorders, 3 861 900 individuals watched the "Following ER" segment
on their local news. The largest audience of the top 40 markets surveyed was in Cincinnati (WLWT), with 432700 individuals. The next week, 4970900 individuals viewed the "Following ER" segment, which dealt with the issue of preventing the transmission of HIV/AIDS in emergency departments. Approximately 100 people per week visit the Web site and call the toll-free telephone number.
An experimental study to further evaluate the impact of "Following ER" on viewer attention, satisfaction, information recall, and \\illingness to make health-enhancing lifestyle changes is currently under way. The multidisciplinary research draws on previous studies in behavioral journalism, social marketing, media advocacy, entertainment, education, and new media.
Drawing on the success of the "Following ER" program, Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions formed a partnership with CBS to begin a similar series, "Living With Hope," on January 21, 1998. The segments follow the television series "Chicago Hope." "Living With Hope" is produced by Johns Hopkins in cooperation with local CBS affiliate WJZ and airs each week on all stations owned and operated by CBS, including those in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. The segment reaches an estimated 300/0 of the American public each week.
The "Living With Hope" interactive Web site is produced by "InteliHealth:' which is a partnership formed between the Johns Hopkins University and Health System and Aetna US Healthcare to provide quality health information and resources on-line
(http:// www.intelihealth.com/hope/index.html). "Living With Hope" received television sponsorship through a million-dollar contract with Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America for its first year of production. This consortium of national pharmaceutical companies, based in Washington, DC, had not previously sponsored a national television series. A search for a new sponsor is currently under way.
Alan M. Langlieb, MD, MPH, MsB Crystale Purvis Cooper; PhD, MHA; Andrea Gielen, ScD, ScM
At the time of this report, Alan M. Langlieb was with the Department of Health Policy and Management, The Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, Baltimore. MD Crystale Purvis Cooper was a doctoral student at, and Andrea Gielen is with, the Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. Requests for reprints should be sent to Alan M. Langlieb, MD, MPH, MsB, Department of psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Meyer 4-1 19,600 N Wolfe SI, Baltimore, MD 212877419 (e-mail: aianglilchlink.welch.jhu.edu). Individuals who want more information or would like help getting the segments broadcast on their local station should contact Rachel MacKnight at (410) 9556878 (for "Following ER") and Gary Stephenson at (410)955-5384 (for "Living With Hope").
A. M. Langlieb initiated and helped to develop "Following ER" and wrote the paper. C. P. Cooper assisted in gathering data for the paper. Both C. P. Cooper and A. Gielen contributed to the writing and editing of the paper. All 3 authors are guarantors for the integrity of the research.
We would like to acknowledge the following individuals for their support and guidance: Neal Baer, MD, coproducer, and John Wells, producer, "ER"; Professor Stephen Teret, Dean Alfred Sommer, and Lizbeth Pettengill of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health; Paul Castillo, MD, MPH; Louis Hugo Francescutti, MD, PhD, MPH; Robert W. Carr, MD, MPH; Gustav Voigt, MD, MPH; and Salil Soman.
© 2004 - American Academy of Pediatrics
WORLD NET DAILY
Shots in the dark
Posted: February 18, 2002
1:00 a.m. Eastern
The recent decision of Washington, D.C., officials to pursue parents who refuse to vaccinate their children with fines and even jail time makes sense in a twisted sort of way. After all, the old solution of banning the children from attending public school was beginning to look more and more like an incentive plan, considering the ignominious performance of the District's notorious schools.
But why are so many parents steadfastly refusing to inject their children? Perhaps because they've learned to be dubious of the official line that vaccines are A Good Thing. The official line rests on a few simple notions, most of which fall apart completely once they're closely examined. A particular favorite of doctors is to state that no scientific study has ever found a causal link between vaccinations and autism, or between vaccinations and a whole host of Bad Things which most parents would very much like their children to avoid.
What generally goes unsaid is that no serious studies have been done on these issues, since it is in the best interests of the pharmaceutical companies manufacturing the vaccines, the politicians requiring them, and the doctors administering the shot, to avoid delving into the subject. Even a much-ballyhooed report last year from the English Institute of Medicine rejecting the MMR vaccine-autism link was not a study proper, but a critical review of Dr. Andrew Wakefield's study of 170 English children who had "undergone regression after receiving the vaccine."
When pressed on this dearth of study, vaccine proponents fall back on insisting that it would be immoral to allow a control group of children to go unvaccinated, thus creating an impenetrable circle of illogic in defense of their assertion that vaccines are A Good Thing. The shotmeisters also make a habit of blaming various outbreaks of things like measles on the unvaccinated in our midst, which is simply not true since by even the rabidly pro-vaccination Center for Disease Control's reckoning, only 27.7 percent of the measles cases in 1987 could be considered preventable.
On television, you know that a child is doomed as soon as you learn that he's unvaccinated. I'm still curious to know if NBC and ER collected some of that Clinton administration propaganda money for the episode in which a misled mother's nice young unvaccinated boy dies of measles. But out here in the real world, in the unlikely event that a child does get measles, the chances that the disease will prove fatal are extremely low. The worst outbreak in the last 15 years was in 1990, when there were 27,786 cases and 89 deaths. That's a 0.32 percent chance of dying on top of a 0.0115 percent chance of coming down with the disease in the first place, compared to a child's 0.2 percent chance of coming down with autism by the age of 5. Because the number of measles cases was 12 times greater than normal in 1990 and the fatalities occurred in people of all ages, a child under 5 is approximately 800 times more likely to develop autism than die of measles in an average year.
Other diseases for which vaccinations are provided are barely worth mentioning, since children almost never die from tetanus or rubella. Contrast this with the fact that the federal government has been forced to pay out more than $1 billion since the establishment of the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act in 1986, and this despite the admission by a former head of the Food and Drug administration that "only about 1 percent of serious events are reported to the FDA."
It is true that there is not yet any absolute scientific proof that vaccines injure and kill thousands of children every year, but the money trail and anecdotal evidence continues to pile up in a manner that would suffice to convince a jury, if not a scientist. It is imperative that these matters be investigated thoroughly and completely, and if it is found that these mandated vaccines are indeed wreaking havoc on the children of America, those responsible for creating, mandating and administering them must be severely punished.
Vox Day is a freelance writer.