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Grey’s Anatomy Raises Health Awareness

Episode With ‘Embedded’ Health Message Shifted Viewers’ Attitudes About HIV-Positive Mothers

Attitude Adjustment

It seems viewers' attitudes shifted when it came to whether HIV-positive women should have children.

The viewers were asked whether they agreed or disagreed with the statement:

"It is irresponsible for a woman who knows she is HIV positive to have a baby."

  • Before watching the show, 61% answered yes.
  • A week after watching the show, only 34% said it was irresponsible.
  • Six weeks after the show aired, 47% of viewers said it was irresponsible.

Because of a lack of knowledge about advances made in treating pregnant HIV-positive women, these women are often judged, researchers say.

Kaiser says more than 8 million people "absorbed" the message that with the right care, an HIV-positive woman is very likely to give birth to a baby without HIV.

According to prepared statements from study author Victoria Rideout, "For better or worse, viewers do absorb the health information they see on TV, so it's important for these shows to get it right."

Rideout says that television can be a powerful teacher. "This study shows the enormous potential for entertainment television to serve as a health educator."

More Results

  • 29% of Grey's Anatomy viewers believe medical information on the show is "very" accurate.
  • 58% think the TV medical information is "somewhat" accurate.
  • 45% of viewers say they picked up some new medical tidbit from the program.

The study also found that 17% of Grey's Anatomy viewers (about 3 million people) were inspired to "find more information" or speak to their doctors or someone in the health field about some issue they saw on the show.

"We've always known we have a passionate and engaged audience at Grey's Anatomy," the show's Director of Medical Research Elizabeth Klaviter says in a news release.

"But this study shows us how much they are affected by the health information in the show, and that's a responsibility we take very seriously," she says.

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