Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Public health messages can influence infectious disease stigmas

Date:
October 1, 2012
Source:
Penn State
Summary:
Crafting public health messages about a disease may create stigmas that influence how likely people are to endorse certain interventions, such as isolating infected persons, forcing treatment on them and mapping their location, according to researchers.

Health department's sign to post on the door of a quarantined area.
Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Crafting public health messages about a disease may create stigmas that influence how likely people are to endorse certain interventions, such as isolating infected persons, forcing treatment on them and mapping their location, according to a Penn State researcher.

Rachel Smith, associate professor of communication arts and sciences and investigator with the University's Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics, used a hypothetical disease -- a virus carried by rodents -- to develop 16 different health alerts describing the virus and those who were infected.

The alerts, based on an existing alert developed by the Centers for Disease Control, indicated whether or not infected people were labeled by the disease. The alerts also indicated the disease was transmissible or not transmissible between humans; had visible symptoms (open sores on arms and a wet, loud cough) or no visible symptoms; and was fatal, painful, and caused paranoid delusions, or was mild and easy to cure.

The disease symptoms, labels associated with infected persons, perceptions of dangerousness, and responsibility comprise the four content cues in Smith's Model of Stigma Communication.

"These content cues can elicit responses such as disgust and anger," Smith said. "They can also shape the development of stigma and influence the likelihood that people will share a stigma message with others or endorse isolating and removing stigmatized people from community."

The results, to be published in a forthcoming issue of Communication Monographs and available online now, showed that those communication choices, and how they made people think and feel, predicted how likely people were to endorse interventions.

In addition, people were more likely to want to share the stigma message with others if the disease had visible symptoms rather than no visible symptoms.

"The visible symptom might suggest that infected persons are different," Smith said, "and this could facilitate social bonding among people spreading the rumor, even if infected persons are not considered a group in and of themselves."

According to Smith, understanding how message choices influence the formation of stigma beliefs is critical.

"When stigmas form with infectious diseases, they can be barriers to health care access and provision in the short and long term," she said. "Understanding how communication choice in health messages influences the stigmatization process can give us the tools to write health alerts without creating or bolstering stigmas around infectious diseases. Once the stigmas are in place, we have few reliable ways to remove them."

The Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics is a unit of the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences. Smith's research was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Penn State. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Penn State. "Public health messages can influence infectious disease stigmas." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 October 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121001084350.htm>.
Penn State. (2012, October 1). Public health messages can influence infectious disease stigmas. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121001084350.htm
Penn State. "Public health messages can influence infectious disease stigmas." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121001084350.htm (accessed September 20, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How The 'Angelina Jolie Effect' Increased Cancer Screenings

How The 'Angelina Jolie Effect' Increased Cancer Screenings

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) Angelina's Jolie's decision to undergo a preventative mastectomy in 2013 inspired many women to seek early screenings for the disease. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Cost of Ebola

The Cost of Ebola

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 18, 2014) As Sierra Leone prepares for a three-day "lockdown" in its latest bid to stem the spread of Ebola, Ciara Lee looks at the financial implications of fighting the largest ever outbreak of the disease. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins