How unhealthy is being sedentary? Office workers’ responses to media coverage.

Published on October 25 2019 – Most people read about scientific research in the news media, but it is unclear how they respond to such media attention, particularly if the content is relevant for themselves. An important public health problem is the lack of physical activity due to sedentariness, for instance because of television viewing or office work. In a recent study with ACHC researcher Gert-Jan de Bruijn, it was investigated how office workers respond to media messages regarding the unhealthy consequences of being sedentary.

The study was conducted in collaboration with scholars from King’s College London and Cambridge Centre for Sport and Exercise Sciences. For the study, 26 office workers from four organizations were interviewed in a semi-structured way. They read news media messages on scientific evidence regarding the negative consequences of being sedentary during office hours, and while they were reading the media messages they were requested to think aloud. The analyses from this qualitative study revealed three important themes, namely (1) if the content was applicable to their personal situation and doubting (2) the validity of the research institute and the government and (3) the effectiveness of the recommended strategies to combat sedentariness.

The results indicate that the communication of scientific evidence on health consequences in the media has important problems. The researchers therefore suggest that science, journalism, and press officers consider the potential negative public responses of their media messages, such as decreased trust in government and health recommendations.

Read more? Yusuf, M., Jagatia, A., Mahmood, Z., McCabe, E., de Bruijn, G. J., Smith, L., & Gardner, B. (2019). How do office workers respond to media coverage of sitting. Occup Med (Lond), 69(5), 372-375. doi:10.1093/occmed/kqz084

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