Annals of Tropical Medicine and Public Health
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Year : 2008  |  Volume : 1  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 25-28

Chikungunya epidemic: Analysis of reports of a lay press

1 Institute of Internal Medicine, Madras Medical College, Chennai - 600 003, Tamilnadu, India
2 Institute of Microbiology, Madurai Medical College, Madurai-625 020, Tamilnadu, India

Correspondence Address:
P Thirumalaikolundusubramanian
69, Pasupathy Nagar, Madurai - 625 017, Tamilnadu
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1755-6783.43074

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Background: Lay press creates awareness on issues related to health and illnesses, and thus influences the attitude of public. Objective: The present study was undertaken to find out the pattern of information provided in print media on Chikungunya fever and to elicit the readers' views. Materials and Methods: Information displayed on Chikungunya fever in one of the oldest English daily newspapers 'The Hindu' and its supplements published from Madurai and Chennai, India from April 1, 2006 to October 31, 2006 were read, analyzed, and classified into different categories. A readership questionnaire survey was carried out among policy makers (n = 25), health professionals (n = 170), medical students (n = 200), and the public (n = 150) to find out their preferences and usefulness on the category of information provided. The data were analyzed by simple descriptive statistics. Results: During the study period of 214 days, 74 items related to chikungunya fever, one in April, three in May, five in June, six in July, 15 in August, 18 in September, and 25 in October appeared. Most of the articles centered around the government policy matters (n = 37) and others in the order of preventive aspects (n = 32), statistics (n = 31), geographical distribution (n = 21), symptomatology (n = 16), transmission of illness (n=16), etc., Overall areas of interest of policy makers and health professionals were different significantly ( P < 0.01) from that of medical students and the public, but every one looked for treatment and preventive aspects. Conclusion: Media have provided information, improved knowledge, altered the attitude, and influenced decision making. It is suggested that students and researchers of health sciences should be motivated to read standard newspapers as it provides information on health and illnesses much earlier than they appear in their professional journals.

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