Objective. A nationally syndicated television news series called 'Following ER' was developed to educate viewers about the health issues dramatized on 'ER,' NBC's award-winning medical drama. This study investigated the impact of this prime-time link on viewer attention, satisfaction, information recall, and perceptions about the uses and gratifications delivered by a news story. Methods. A total of 458 municipal jurors participated in a randomized 2 ('ER' tie-in vs no tie-in) x 2 (familiar vs novel story topic) experiment. The four experimental news stories required by this design were developed using footage of previously aired local newscasts. Results. In the case of the familiar topic story, the 'ER' tie-in enhanced the attention and satisfaction of viewers. Participants reported that the prime-time link added value by elevating the importance and relevance of the commonplace topic. However, the 'ER' tie-in did not generate any beneficial effects when paired with the novel topic story. Conclusions. Framing news stories about familiar health concerns in the context of television drama represents a viable strategy for legitimizing them as important and timely topics for public consumption and debate. (C) 2000 American Health Foundation and Academic Press.
- Health education
- Health promotion
- Mass media
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health