A content analysis of oral health messages in Australian mass media

Kelly Jones, Jessica Merrick, Chris Beasley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Social analysis regarding oral health and oral health promotion are almost non-existent in the Australian context. The usefulness of such exploration lies in framing and informing research methodologies and health promotion initiatives, and can improve our understanding of oral health behaviours and their social contexts. Methods: We conducted a systematic content analysis of a random sample of popular Australian magazines, newspapers and television shows from May to September 2012. Our sample included the top three best-selling magazines, six weekly newspapers, one from each available Australian state, and the four highest ranked Australian prime time television shows and their associated commercials. Results: Data comprised 72 hours of prime time television and 14,628 pages of hardcopy media. Seventy-one oral health related media 'incidents' were counted during a five-month period. Only 1.5% of incidents referenced fluoride and only two made dietary references. Women were represented almost six times more than men and the majority of oral health related incidents conveyed no social context (63%). Conclusions: Oral health messages conveyed in Australian media fail to provide a social context for preventive or health-promoting behaviours. In light of increased levels of oral disease and retention of natural teeth, more community based oral health promotion and support for oral health literacy would be prudent in the Australian context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-20
Number of pages5
JournalAustralian Dental Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016


  • Content analysis
  • health promotion
  • media
  • messages
  • oral health
  • qualitative research


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