Examining U.S. Newspapers' Effects on COVID-19 Infection Rates among Racial/Ethnic Minorities

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic reveals health disparities in the United States. News media are expected to play a major role in reducing racial/ethnic disparities. Methods: Guided by agenda-setting theory in the context of health promotion and the structural approach of media effects, this study assessed the impacts of COVID-19 newspaper articles about racial/ethnic minorities on minorities' infection rates in the early stages of the pandemic, while controlling for social determinants of health (SDOHs). Results: Racial/ethnic minorities are underrepresented in COVID-19 newspaper articles, although newspapers' attention to racial/ethnic minorities' health increased over time. Public exposure to newspaper articles about racial/ethnic minorities was the only significant factor that predicted infection rates among general racial/ethnic minorities. The more the general public in the United States was exposed to related newspaper articles, the lower the infection rates among general racial/ethnic minorities would be. The impacts of SDOHs varied across different racial/ethnic minority groups. Blue states were more likely to be exposed to COVID-19 newspaper articles about racial/ethnic minorities than red states. Discussion: Findings suggest that news exposure to any racial/ethnic group can benefit all minorities. Findings also demonstrate the influence of media agenda on public agenda and policy agenda regarding minority health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-90
Number of pages10
JournalHealth Equity
Volume6
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • health disparities
  • newspapers
  • racial/ethnic disparities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health Information Management

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