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The First Hypothesis

5. DISCUSSION

5.2 The Three Hypotheses

5.2.1 The First Hypothesis

depicted aspects of the biomedical model which included: a) treatment of the individual by medical intervention, b) prevention through early medical procedures, c) cause focusing on bio11ogical patho1logy, d} the promotion of medica'I research, and e) a focus on the individual.

The biomedical emphasis found in this study was consistent with the findings of most studies of health and disease in the mass media. In particular, the findings were consistent with other studies of cancer and breast cancer.

Clarke (1991) found that 54 percent of articles concerning cancer were from a biomedical perspective. When all articles were included, that is those concerning heart disease and AIDS as well as cancer, Clarke found that the biomedical model still dominated (58o/o}. The finding of this study, that 85 percent of articles were from a biomedical perspective, was higher than the finding by Clarke in relation to the incidence of cancer. However, Clarke's finding that the biomedical model dominated was consistent with the domination of the biomedical model found in this study.

The finding also was consistent with Lupton's (1994) study of discourses on breast cancer in the Australian press from 1987 to 1990. Lupton found a medical and technological dominance strongly evident. Although Lupton did not quantify the discourse of the medical professional and medical technology, she did indicate that it was a major discourse in the portrayal of breast cancer in the Australian press.

A number of other studies 'in the area, such as those undertaken by Karpf (1988), Turow and Coe (1985), and Garland (1984), did not focus upon any part'icular health issue, nor did they quantify the use of a particular model of disease.

However, these researchers found an extensive use of the biomedical model of disease in the portrayal of health and disease in the mass media. Overall, the

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finding that the biomedical model dominated in this study was consistent with the findings of other studies.

5.2.2

The Second Hypothesis

The second hypothesis, which predicted that the lifestyle model of disease would be a significant alternative in the portrayal of breast cancer in the print media, was found to be false. The results did not support such a prediction. Only eight percent of articles were aligned with the lifestyle perspective. Given this low incidence, the lifestyle model of disease could not be considered a significant alternative.

Aspects of the lifestyle perspective represented in the articles within the lifestyle model of disease included: a) cause of disease largely attributable to the lifestyle choices of the individual, b) prevention by the individual adopting a 'healthy' lifestyle, c) the individual viewed as an independent decision maker, and d) that the individual is responsible for her or his own health.

The low incidence of the lifestyle model found in this study was inconsistent with the findings of most other studies. The finding was notably in contrast to the findings of previous studies of cancer and breast cancer portrayal in the mass media ..

Clarke (1991) found that 35 percent of articles concerning cancer were from the lifestyle perspective. When articles concerning heart disease and AIDS also were considered, Clarke found that the lifestyle model was still a significant alternative (36°/o). Clarke's finding was in substantial contrast to the eight percent of breast cancer articles aligned with the lifestyle model in this study.

Lupton (1994) found that another dominant discourse in the portrayal of breast cancer in the Australian press was an emphasis on individuals maintaining their

health through preventative measures. Lupton noted that the preventative measures largely involved the individual adopting 'healthy' lifestyle practices.

Lupton's finding also was notably inconsistent with the finding of this study.

It was surprising that such a low incidence of the lifestyle model was found. The lifestyle perspective, as noted by Clarke (1991 ), is becoming an increasingly important perspective in society. As such, it was expected that the portrayal of breast cancer in the print media would include a significant use of the lifestyle model.

An explanation for this unexpected finding may be the selection of breast cancer as the disease for analysis. Two factors concerning breast cancer may be possible influences in this surprising result.

Firstly, the lifestyle model of disease focuses upon unhealthy lifestyle choices as risk factors for many diseases. However, the primary risk factors for breast cancer, increasing age, being female, and a family history of breast cancer (Australian Cancer Network, 1994), are not lifesty:le choices. Although other risk factors, such as a high fat diet and lack of exercise, are lifestyle choices, these are not primary risk factors. Thus, the media may be less likely to focus on the lifestyle perspective for this reason.

Secondly, at present, the favoured prevention and treatment measures for breast cancer overwhelmingly involve medical technology. As noted by the Australian Cancer Society (1994) mammographic screening is the best and most appropriate prevention measure available to date. Also, various types of surgery and a number of drugs are the choice of treatment measures. Therefore, given that the dominant prevention and treatment measures currently involve medical technology, it is likely that these will be the focus of many articles on breast cancer in the print media.

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Had another disease, or a number of diseases, been analysed, the incidence of the lifestyle model may have been different. That is, had diseases which are considered largely linked to lifestyle choices, such as AIDS, been analysed, there may have a higher incidence of the lifestyle model of their portrayal in the mass media.