health communication

Attention to the Media and Worry over Becoming Infected: The Case of the Swine Flu (H1N1) Epidemic of 2009

Attention to the Media and Worry over Becoming Infected: The Case of the Swine Flu (H1N1) Epidemic of 2009

Gustavo S. Mesch, Kent P. Schwirian & Tanya Kolobov

Accepted for Publication, Sociology of Health and Illness

Attention to the Media and Worry over Becoming Infected: The Case of the Swine Flu (H1N1) Epidemic of 2009

 This paper examines the relationship between attention to the mass media and concern about becoming infected with H1N1 in two nation-wide random samples interviewed during the flu epidemic of 2009. The first sample (N=1004) was taken at the end of the first wave of the outbreak and the second sample (N=1006) was taken as the second wave was accelerating. The data were gathered by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. Over the period studied, almost all social categories of respondents increased in the percentage worried about becoming infected. With social category membership taken into account, both those who followed the H1N1 outbreak closely and those who were more interested in reports about it were more likely to be worried about becoming infected than did others. As time went on, interest in media reports declined but worry over infection continued to increase.  Our findings imply that despite the decrease in the percentage of the population expressing interest and following the news, media exposure was the most important factor explaining the likelihood of being concerned with being infected over and above risks factors and demographic profiles.



New Paper:Minority status and Health Information search: A test of the Social Diversification hypothesis


Minority status and Health Information search: A test of the Social Diversification hypothesis

Forthcoming; Social Science and Medicine, 

Gustavo Mesch, Department of Sociology & Anthropology, University of Haifa,

Rita Mano, Department of Human Services, University of Haifa,

Yeudit Tsamir, Department of Evaluation & Research, Maccabi Health Services,

Group differences in the search of health information were investigated, to test the
diversification hypothesis that argues that disadvantaged groups in society will be
more likely to use the Internet and computer mediated communication to access
health information to compensate for their lack of social capital. Data were gathered
from a sample of Internet users representative of the percentage of minorities in the
general population in Israel (n=1371). The results provide partial support for the
hypothesis, indicating that in multicultural societies disadvantaged groups show
greater motivation to use the Internet to access medical information than the majority
group. We interpreted our findings as suggesting that minority groups that do not
have access to specialized networks use the Internet to overcome their lack of access
to specialized information. Implications of the finding are discussed

Net Neutrality: an important concept

Net neutrality: Content must travel through Internet on equal terms
The Netherlands is the first country in Europe to adopt a net neutrality law, and the second country in the world, after Chile. The net neutrality law will ensure that access to the Internet is neutral and it is forbidden to filter the Internet.The law aims to prevent telecom providers from blocking or throttling services such as Skype or WhatsApp, an Internet SMS service. Internet providers will also be prohibited from making prices for their Internet services dependent on the services used by the subscriber

Human Communication Research TOC October 2010 Good Internet studies

Human Communication Research

? 2010 International Communication Association

Volume 36, Issue 4 Page 469 – 634

The latest issue of Human Communication Research is available on Wiley Online Library


The Influence of Online Comments on Perceptions of Antimarijuana Public Service Announcements on YouTube (pages 469?492)
Joseph B. Walther, David DeAndrea, Jinsuk Kim and James C. Anthony
Article first published online: 16 SEP 2010 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2958.2010.01384.x
Influence of Self-Affirmation on Responses to Gain- Versus Loss-Framed Antismoking Messages (pages 493?511)
Xiaoquan Zhao and Xiaoli Nan
Article first published online: 16 SEP 2010 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2958.2010.01385.x
An Evaluation of Two Characterizations of the Relationships Between Problematic Internet Use, Time Spent Using the Internet, and Psychosocial Problems (pages 512?545)
Robert S. Tokunaga and Stephen A. Rains
Article first published online: 16 SEP 2010 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2958.2010.01386.x
Bridging Social Capital in Online Communities: Heterogeneity and Social Tolerance of Online Game Players in Japan (pages 546?569)
Tetsuro Kobayashi
Article first published online: 16 SEP 2010 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2958.2010.01388.x
Are Norms of Disclosure of Online and Offline Personal Information Associated with the Disclosure of Personal Information Online? (pages 570?592)
Gustavo S. Mesch and Guy Beker
Article first published online: 16 SEP 2010 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2958.2010.01389.x
Dimensions of Leadership and Social Influence in Online Communities (pages 593?617)
David Huffaker
Article first published online: 16 SEP 2010 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2958.2010.01390.x
Testing Error Management Theory: Exploring the Commitment Skepticism Bias and the Sexual Overperception Bias (pages 618?634)
David Dryden Henningsen and Mary Lynn Miller Henningsen
Article first published online: 16 SEP 2010 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2958.2010.01391.x


New Study
During December 2009, we conducted a survey of a representative sample of the Israeli population (n=2008) to investigate inequalities in access health information (online, face-to-face and traditional media) in Israel. The study is funded by the Macabi Health Insurance Fundation. Principal Investigators are Gustavo Mesch (Sociology, Haifa, Rita Mano ( Department of Human Services at the University of Haifa and Yeudit Tsamir( from the statistics department of Macabi Health Insurance). Sample included 46.5% males and 53.5 percent women. In terms of family status, 71.3 percent were married , 5.5 percent widows, 5.5 percent divorced, and 17 percent single and never married. The average age of the sample was 46. 9 years old (sd=16.9) and on average have completed 13.42(sd=3.38) years of formal education. Computer use at home, 72.7 percent of the sample have access to a computer at home. (78.6 percent of the Jews, 66.8 percent of new immigrants and 66.8 percent of the Arabs).
Chronic Medical conditions: from the sample 47.6 % reported being healthy, Hypetension 27.5 %, Diabetes, 14.4 %, Heart disease 7.8 %, Cancer 2.4 % and other condition requiring drug dependency 0.3 %.
Frequency of use of different sources of health information. Ask a Physician or nurse 86%, ask a family member 71%, ask a friend 63 %, Internet 63 %, T.V. 62 %, consult a book 52 %, consult a journal 51 %.
Trust in sources of health information. On a scale of 1 to 5 when the highest trust is 5.
Physician 4.13, Nurse 3.50,Family and friends 2.97, Internet 2.74, journals 2.50 and newspapers 2.28.
Use of online services: 29 % made an appointment with the family doctor online, 27 percent made an appointment with a specialist online, 21 percent made an appointment with a nurse online, 46 percent accessed their blood tests online.
Effect of health information online. In the survey we asked if as a consequence of accessing health information online, respondents decided to take an action.
54% reported that reading online health information definitely influenced their health activities.
45% reported that the information online helped them to start physical activity.
39% said that online information help them to make a decision to start a weight loss program.
16 % changed their physician and 24% asked to change their pills as a result of the online information..