Medical TV shows contribute to the view on vaping-related lung injury



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A TV episode of a medical drama containing a story about lung injury (or EVALI) associated with e-cigarettes or vaping garnered more than 600 responses from Twitter audiences, according to a study published in Journal of Health Communication.

Analyzing tweets after publication, New Amsterdam, chicago med and Grey’s Anatomy The 2020 episodes all featured EVALI’s stories, and researchers found 641 related posts on social media platforms.

Quote from Beth L. Hoffman
Headshot credit: University of Pittsburgh

Viewers’ comments ranged from their feelings about the plot, to their thoughts on the realism/unrealism of the plot, to how it would affect viewers’ e-cigarette smoking behavior.

To learn more about these storylines, Twitter’s findings, and the implications of this study, Helio spoke: Dr. Beth L. Hoffman, M.P.H., Principal Investigator and Postdoctoral Fellow in the Division of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh.

Helio: What inspired this research?

Hoffmann: Previous research has suggested that hearing about EVALI in the news may cause people to stop or stop smoking e-cigarettes, so seeing these stories may have similar effects. I was curious. I also thought analyzing tweets would be a good way to see how viewers were reacting to the storyline in real time in an organic viewing environment.

Healio: Can you explain the premise of some of the stories involving e-cigarettes in the three medical dramas you analyzed? Was the show’s message about the harm of e-cigarettes accurate?

Hoffmann: In each scenario, one adolescent patient presented to the ED with symptoms consistent with EVALI, such as dyspnea and cough. For all three, doctors named the disease EVALI. All three patients became very ill, requiring intubation and care in the ICU. .

Healio: You turned to Twitter to capture audience reactions to these stories. Can you describe your findings and how viewers felt about these stories through Tweets?

Hoffmann: One of our findings was that while some people thought the storyline was accurate and praised the show for highlighting the dangers of e-cigarettes, others believed that THC-containing products ( THC-containing products were ultimately associated with the majority of EVALI cases). Also, some viewers discussed his EVALI knowledge in the context of watching the show, and some viewers ditched their e-cigarettes or intended to quit smoking because they watched one of his shows. I also found out that I said that it was.

Helio: Why is it important to feature entertainment such as TV shows?s Characters who have EVALI or have EVALI interwoven into their storylines?

Hoffmann: According to viewing estimates, over 4 million people have seen at least one of these stories. Therefore, weaving EVALI (or any important health topic) into the stories of popular TV shows is a very powerful way of disseminating health information to a large number of people, and can have a significant impact on the health of the population. I have.

Healio: Do ​​you think clinicians can use these shows to educate young people about the dangers of e-cigarettes?? Furthermore, do Are there any plans for future research on this topic?

Hoffmann: I do, and this plays a role in my current research. My colleagues and I recently received an R01 research project grant from the National Institutes of Health to examine nicotine and tobacco misinformation on youth-oriented social media platforms.

For more information:

Beth L. Hoffmann, PhD, MPH, He can be reached at


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