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Health Commun. 2006;19(1):39-48.

The portrayal of heart disease in mass print magazines, 1991-2001.

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Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.


In this article we discuss the portrayal of heart disease based on a content analysis of the highest circulating English-language magazines available in Canada and published in Canada or the United States in 1991, 1996, and 2001. It includes both manifest and latent content analysis. In terms of the manifest analysis, the findings indicate the dominance of the medical frame followed by lifestyle and social structural frames. The latent analysis reveals the following frames: (a) optimism about medicine; (b) medicine as "good" and, by contrast, the body as "bad"; (c) heart disease as an "attack"; (d) heart disease as an individual responsibility; (e) contradictory information; (f) male celebrity patients and doctors; and (g) prestigious medical doctors, journals, and institutions. The medicalized portrayal of heart disease as fear generating is considered. In addition, the lack of attention to social structural causation in contrast to current epidemiological findings is discussed.

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