Moderating Effects of Media Exposure on Associations between Socioeconomic Position and Cancer Worry


Reducing fear of cancer is significant in developing cancer screening interventions, but the levels of fear mayvary depending on the degrees of media exposure as well as individuals’ socioeconomic positions (SEP). However,few studies have examined how the SEP influences the fear of cancer under the moderating process of general andspecific forms of media exposure. We investigated the moderating effect of media exposure on the relationshipbetween SEP and the level of fear of cancer by assuming that cancer knowledge is a covariate between thosetwo. In particular, this study examined how exposure to both general and specific media changes the series ofprocesses from SEP to fear of cancer. We conducted path analyses with three types of media - television, radioand the Internet- using data from a health communication survey of 613 adults in Massachusetts in the UnitedStates. We found that SEP influences cancer knowledge directly and fear of cancer indirectly, as moderated bythe level of media exposure. Health-specific exposure, however, had a more consistent effect than general mediaexposure in lowering the fear of cancer by increasing knowledge about cancer. A higher level of health-specificexposure and greater amount of cancer knowledge lessened the fear of cancer. In addition, the more people wereexposed to health information on television and the Internet, the lower the level of fear of cancer as a result.These findings indicate a relationship between SEP and fear of cancer, as moderated by the level and type ofmedia exposure. Furthermore, the findings suggest that for early detection or cancer prevention strategies, healthcommunication approaches through mass media need to be considered.