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Television as educator

- September 16, 2008

The Kaiser Foundation “reports the results”:http://news.yahoo.com/s/usnw/20080916/pl_usnw/unique_experiment_finds_health_content_placed_in_grey___s_anatomy_episode_quadrupled_awareness_among_audience__over_eight_milli of an interesting experiment.

bq. In order to document how well viewers learn health information from entertainment television, the Foundation worked with writers at Grey’s Anatomy to embed a health message in an episode, and then surveyed viewers on the topic before and after the episode aired. The storyline involved an HIV positive pregnant woman who learns that with the proper treatment, she has a 98% chance of having a healthy baby. The study found that the audience’s awareness of this information increased by 46 percentage points (from 15% to 61%), a four-fold increase among all viewers. This translates to more than eight million people learning correct information about mother-to-child HIV transmission rates from watching the episode.

If only the _West Wing_ were still shooting new episodes, so that some enterprising political scientist could persuade the scriptwriters to try something similar …