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Press Release

For Immediate Release: October 14, 2000
Contact: CDC Media Relations (404) 639-3286

Breast Cancer Storyline Awarded First Ever CDC Sentinel for Health Award for Daytime Drama

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today awards the first-ever Sentinel for Health Award for Daytime Drama to a storyline that depicts a woman's experience with the early diagnosis of breast cancer and its emotional impact on her and her family members. The announcement is being made in Los Angeles during the luncheon program for Soap Summit V, an educational conference hosted by Population Communications International for writers, producers and network executives of daytime dramas.

The storyline, "Viki's Breast Cancer," from ABC's One Life To Live, was selected from four finalists. CDC and invited experts from public health, academic, advocacy and entertainment organizations judged entries to the award competition in three rounds of review. Judges noted the winning storyline did "an excellent job of stressing the importance of mammograms and early detection," along with informed decisionmaking and family involvement and support.

"Breast and cervical cancer prevention is a major emphasis of CDC's cancer program," said Jeffrey P. Koplan, M.D.,M.P.H., director of the CDC. "Since 1995 the CDC's early detection programs provided mammograms for 2.5 million low-income and uninsured women. This type of storyline reinforces the public health message that early detection is critical to improving chances for treatment and survival."

CDC analysis of national survey data suggests T.V. soap operas can serve an important health education service by providing accurate, timely information about disease, injury and disability in their storylines for the more than 38 million people who regularly watch daytime dramas. The CDC reports that regular viewers of soap operas have characteristics similar to audiences at greatest risk for preventable diseases. These audiences report more health concerns than non-viewers, including more chronic health problems. Nearly one-half report they learn about health topics from soap operas and one-third take some action as a result. CDC analysis is based on the Healthstyles Survey, a database developed by Porter Novelli, a social marketing and public relations firm. A total of 2,636 respondents answered questions for the 1999 healthstyles survey.

The Sentinel for Health Award for Daytime Drama was developed by CDC and is supported by the CDC Foundation to encourage more health storylines and more accurate portrayals of health topics in daytime drama. Storylines are recognized for exemplary portrayals that inform, educate, and motivate viewers to make choices for healthier and safer lives. Judges viewed up to 30 minutes of excerpts from storylines that continued for at least three episodes, and scored each composite on established criteria. Four storylines were selected as finalists, including the winner and three others: "Drunk Driving Revisited," All My Children; "Pediatric and Adolescent AIDS Awareness", General Hospital; and "Matt Walks", Port Charles.

The Sentinel for Health Award for Daytime Drama is part of a larger entertainment-education program which supports CDC health communication efforts through research, education and outreach to entertainment audiences. Producers and writers of T.V. shows can access CDC health information online at

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention protects people's health and safety, enhances health decisions by providing credible information, and promotes healthy living through strong partnerships.


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