EVALI – Vaping and Lung Injury – Storylines on Popular Medical Dramas May Change Behavior

PainRelief.com: What are the main findings?

Response: One of our findings was that some people thought the storylines were accurate and praised the shows for highlighting the dangers of vaping, while others thought the storylines were inaccurate because there was no discussion on the shows of THC-containing products (use of THC-containing products was ultimately linked to the majority of EVALI cases). We also found that some viewers discussed knowledge of EVALI in the context of watching the show(s) and several mentioned throwing away their e-cigarette or intention to quit because of watching one of the shows.

PainRelief.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Our analysis suggests that primetime television may be a powerful way to positively shape viewers’ knowledge about the dangers associated with e-cigarette use. Given that over 4 million people saw at least one of these storylines, interweaving EVALI—or any important health topic—into storylines on popular television programs is a really powerful way to disseminate health information to a lot of people and potentially have a profound impact on population health. 

PainRelief.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: In light of seeing some tweets mentioning behavior change and knowledge from watching the shows, we are currently studying the use of clips from these storylines as part of vaping prevention programs offered to middle school students. Another area for future research could be to see if storylines about other “hot topics”, including COVID-19, could be used for health education. 

I have no disclosures to report.


Beth L. Hoffman, Riley Wolynn, Erica Barrett, Jennifer A. Manganello, Elizabeth M. Felter, Jaime E. Sidani, Elizabeth Miller, Jessica G. Burke, Brian A. Primack & Kar-Hai Chu (2023) Viewer Reactions to EVALI Storylines on Popular Medical Dramas: A Thematic Analysis of Twitter Messages, Journal of Health Communication, DOI: 10.1080/10810730.2023.2201814


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