Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mass Communication

Document Type



This research tests the public health model of reporting to discover if changing the way newspaper stories frame the top two health concerns in the United States – cancer and obesity – affects readers’ view of the problem. Using an experimental design, this study manipulated the context of newspaper stories about cancer and obesity. Applying thematic (broader context) and episodic (individual or event) framing concepts and gains (emphasizes benefits – e.g. lives saved) and losses (emphasizes costs – lives lost), this research revealed how the differences in framing affect public opinion about cancer and obesity. This research expands framing theory by showing that the effects of thematic/episodic framing are intensified when combined with gain/loss framing concepts from prospect theory. Overall, this study advances understanding of how framing affects attribution of responsibility and informs the comprehension of the effectiveness of health news and communication messages. Two-hundred-and twenty-nine adults from the South, West, and Southwest were recruited to participate in this study. The findings of this study provide support for the public health model of report and strongly indicate combined news frames influence framing effects. In this study, the combination of the thematic loss frames and episodic gain frames led to significant findings. These results clearly support the theoretical argument that intersecting frames generate more detailed information processing among audiences and intensify media effects. The findings have implications for future research on the use of news frames to discuss health and other policy issues.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Robert Kirby Goidel