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Celebrity Cancer Announcements

  • By: Seth M. Noar
  • In: Encyclopedia of Health Communication
  • Edited by: Teresa L. Thompson
  • Subject:Public Health Education & Health Promotion, Health Psychology, Health Communication

A compelling event that garners significant national attention and interest occurs when a celebrity or other public figure makes an illness announcement or dies from an illness. This kind of event can stimulate significant news media coverage, which translates into scores of people being exposed to health-related messages at the population level. A question that some researchers have pursued is whether such announcements result in large-scale effects such as information seeking about the illness and/or behavioral effects of people getting screened or tested for the illness. Additional research has examined the volume and content of the news coverage of the celebrity illness event.

The most well-studied example of a celebrity announcement of illness occurred in the area of HIV/AIDS. A wealth of research examined Earvin “Magic” ...

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