Tuesday, September 16, 2008; 9:30 a.m. ET
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Washington, D.C. – Most viewers who tune in each night to television’s top-rated sitcoms and dramas do so because they want to be entertained, but according to two new studies released today by the Kaiser Family Foundation, many of them are being educated about important health issues at the same time. 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.
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