Analysis Paper Rx/Media


Analysis Paper Rx/Media

(Prescription Drug Advertisement or Health Presentation in News/Entertainment Media)

Source of the textbook is: du Pre, A. (2017). Communicating About Health: Current Issues and Perspectives (5th edition). New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN: 978-0-19-027568-6

Health communication intersects with interpersonal and mass communication. This paper involves analyzing the latter, the way that health is portrayed through the mass media. This portrayal also influences healthcare policy, how we understand our own and others’ health, and how we view particular illnesses and conditions. Two areas studied in this area of health communication are prescription drug advertisements, health news, and health presentations in entertainment media (health –related storylines or narratives in television programs and in film).

A few great ways to understand these areas is to learn about them through reading. Another excellent way to engage with this material is to reflect on one of your own experiences with a prescription drug ad, or health-related news report, entertainment program, or film.

This paper is to be your description and then your analysis of one of these mass-mediated health portrayals in which you apply concepts and/or theory we’ve discussed in class as well as your own creativity and perspective. You will take a look at these items as texts and discuss what messages about health are being portrayed and for what purpose.

These papers should have two sections: 1) Summary and 2) Analysis.  In the summary section, highlight the mass media text (ad, report, or entertainment media) you are analyzing in brief, to give the reader a context for what you are describing. Then, in the analysis section, discuss what you think is going on in the text in terms of some concept or concepts in health communication, particularly what messages you think are being portrayed about the health area of interest, for what purpose, and if you think the message has educational value; you may also discuss ethical issues you may find with the text you choose. You should look much deeper than surface-level at the media piece and apply some of the conceptual and theoretical vocabulary we’ve been learning in class and through your readings to lead to a sophisticated analysis. Offer examples from the media piece and examine them closely in terms of a communication theory, in terms of potential outcomes, in terms of audience targeted, or numerous other areas. In a short paper such as this, your summary should be quite short, and the analysis portion of the paper should be much lengthier in terms of balance in these two aspects. You must use at least one source. The source should be a peer-reviewed journal article, particularly one of the following health communication journals:

American Journal of Public Health

Journal of Health Communication

Health Communication

Journal of Communication in Healthcare

*Note—there are other journals that feature health communication research that you can cite in this paper. Refer to page 43 in the textbook (Box 3.1) for other suggestions.

The source must be incorporated in APA style, 7th ed


For example, you might decide to take a look at a magazine advertisement for Viagra. You’d reflect on the ad, both its visuals and text, and analyze what you think the message is and how the product is being marketed. You’d think about what message the ad is sending about erectile dysfunction (ED), the health area of interest in this case. Who does the message target and how, you might ask yourself. You might also consider if any health behavior or communication theories help you to describe the message, or if other aspects or concepts of health communication are applicable to your analysis.

To write this paper, you’d briefly describe what ED is and what Viagra is, and then describe the ad. You’d then analyze the ad, incorporating the reflections you’ve had, described previously, incorporating ideas from what we’ve learned about such advertising and other related aspects of health communication in class. You’d use citations from duPre’s book or other sources as needed.

Here are some potential questions you may want to answer in your essay as you analyze the media source:

  1. Is the ad designed to inform, entertain, or persuade?
  2. What does the ad say explicitly?
  3. What does the ad imply to you (the subtext)?
  4. Are the claims (explicit and implicit) reasonable or misleading?
  5. What evidence is presented (no evidence, scientific evidence, testimony, etc.?)
  6. Does common sense tell you that the claims in this ad are true?
  7. Does this message appeal to a vulnerable audience, that is, people who may be so eager for the rewards promised that they might risk their money and health?
  8. Considering the ad’s purpose and its content, what trustworthiness rating would you give it on a scale of 1 (not trustworthy) to 10 (highly trustworthy)?
  9. Is there a way that you would recreate or redesign the ad to make it more fair or realistic? How so?

This paper should be typed, double-spaced, 10 or 12-point Times New Roman font, with 1” margins all around. There should be no extra spaces between paragraphs. Please provide references for any outside data using APA format.

How should I structure the essay?

Paragraph One:                             Introduction (includes attention-getter, thesis statement, & preview of main points)

Body Paragraphs:                          Body (consists of main points and supporting points


Last Paragraph:                             Conclusion (includes a transition, brief review of main points, & meaningful ending statements)

How should I cite sources? APA says that any time an article is cited in the text of a document, cite the author’s last name, followed by the date of publication. If you use a direct quote, also include the page number.  Example:  Smith (2010) stated……  Do not include the title of the article in the paper unless the author is not identified.  

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