Public service plotlines

Public health researchers worked with TV scriptwriters to see if viewers do, in fact, learn anything lasting about healthcare from watching Grey’s Anatomy. A good portion of them do—good news for public health crusaders and advertisers alike.

The proportion of viewers who were aware that, with the proper treatment, there is more than a 90% chance of an HIV-positive woman having a healthy baby increased by 46 percentage points after the episode aired (from 15% to 61%). This includes 17% of respondents in the post-show survey who volunteered the specific response that the woman has a 98% chance of having a healthy baby—the statistic that was repeated several times on the show.

Six weeks after the episode aired, the proportion who gave the correct response had dropped to 45%, but was still substantially higher (by 30 percentage points) than it had been prior to the show. This time around, however, only 3% volunteered the specific fact that the woman would have a 98% chance of having a healthy baby.


Originally published at culture-making.com.

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