Exploring the impact of a celebrity health announcement on public awareness

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the ONA take:

Breast cancer treatment options received considerable media attention when Angelina Jolie revealed she had undergone prophylactic double mastectomy for BRCA1 positivity.

In this first study of media-related impact on public awareness, these authors surveyed two female population-matched cohorts of 1,000 participants each, ages 18 to 65 years, in two polls. Poll 1 was taken in March 2013, before Ms. Jolie’s announcement in May 2013; poll 2 was taken in June 2013, after the announcement.

The authors report a significant increase in awareness of reconstructive breast surgery after breast cancer-related mastectomy. In particular, awareness of autologous tissue and single-stage reconstructions was higher in poll 2, with approximately 20% of women in poll 2 indicating that the media coverage affected their interest in the disease.

This prospective study demonstrated a statistically significant impact of a celebrity announcement on public awareness of breast cancer treatment options. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, theirs is the first study to do so.

The results highlight the importance of media-related impact in improving public awareness of a specific disease.

Angelia Jolie
Breast cancer treatment options received considerable media attention when Angelina Jolie revealed she had undergone double mastectomy.
There was an observed increase in public awareness: significantly more women from poll 2 were aware of reconstructive breast surgery being possible after breast cancer-related mastectomy, notably with regard to autologous tissue and single-stage reconstructions. Approximately 20% of the women in poll 2 (205 women) indicated that media coverage regarding Ms. Jolie affected their interest in breast cancer.
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