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April 2001

Fact Sheet

Sentinel for Health Award for Daytime Drama

WHAT: The Sentinel for Health Award for Daytime Drama has been developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to recognize exemplary portrayals of health issues in daytime drama. It is the first such award to be given by the agency and is part of a larger Entertainment Education Program that includes research, education and outreach to entertainment audiences.

WHY: Many of the groups at greatest risk for preventable diseases have characteristics similar to regular viewers of soap operas who watch at least twice a week. Nearly half of regular viewers report they learned about a disease or how to prevent it from a soap opera and one-third took some action as a result (1999 Healthstyles Survey).

WHO: A CDC committee of communication staff from multiple program areas and representatives from academic, public health, entertainment and advocacy organizations advise on development of the CDC award activity. The CDC Foundation lends sponsorship support and Population Communications International (PCI) hosts the Soap Summit conference where the award is presented.

WHEN: The first award was given on October 14, 2000 at Soap Summit V in Los Angeles. The ABC soap opera One Life To Live was recognized for the storyline, Viki’s Breast Cancer, which depicted early detection of breast cancer through mammography. Entries for the 2001 award are due June 30 and a winner will be announced in October.

HOW: Award development, promotion and evaluation activities are coordinated by the CDC Office of Communication, based in the Office of the Director. The award review process includes a first round of judging at CDC and a second round of judging outside the agency. CDC judges are experts in health communication, media relations, health education, behavioral science and epidemiology. External judges are from academic, advocacy, entertainment and public health organizations. Related CDC Entertainment-Education Program activities that support the award activity include:

  • Resource Materials: Tip sheets, fact sheets and other materials on priority health topics are provided to producers and writers who may contact CDC or partner organizations for expert consultation on entertainment shows. Tip sheets are developed by CDC program staff to suggest topics and offer resources, such as websites, 800 numbers and CDC contacts.

  • Meetings/Consultations/Briefings: Meetings are held with entertainment representatives from TV shows, networks, and partner organizations to educate them about public health topics, offer materials and explore collaborative projects. Expert meetings and briefings are held with writers and producers to present current data and information about disease trends, groups at risk and recommended prevention measures.

  • Research and Evaluation: Audience research is conducted and databases such as Healthstyles, PRIZM (Claritas, Inc.) and Nielsen are analyzed for strategic program development and sharing with entertainment and professional audiences. Evaluation of program activity is underway, and recommendations from a research agenda-setting conference held at CDC with invited experts will be available in early 2001.

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This page last reviewed May 9, 2001

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