Efficacy information in media coverage of infectious disease risks: An ill predicament?

Darrick T. Evensen, Christopher E. Clarke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Communication scholars have argued that print media ineffectively communicate efficacy information about zoonotic infectious diseases. In this study, the authors analyze U.S. newspaper coverage of West Nile virus and avian influenza, focusing on (a) personal efficacy information and (b) actions societal actors (e.g., government officials) can/should take to address disease risks ("societal efficacy"). Their findings indicate an emphasis on societal efficacy (64% of West Nile virus sample; 81% avian influenza) versus personal efficacy (51% and 55%) and disease symptoms (32% and 10%). The authors speculate that scholars potentially underestimate the magnitude and types of efficacy information within mass media coverage and discuss implications for risk communication.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)392-418
Number of pages27
JournalScience Communication
Issue number3
Early online date5 Oct 2011
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2012


  • efficacy information
  • infectious disease
  • media coverage
  • risk communication
  • self-efficacy


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