A University of Iowa study finds when the Today Show’s Katie Couric televised her colon cancer screening in 2000, many of us followed her example. Dr. Peter Cram, a U-of-I internal medicine professor, co-authored the study that found a 20-percent jump in colonoscopy screenings regionally and nationally following Couric’s much-publicized test on T-V. Dr. Cram says the effect was sustained for nine months, perhaps longer. He says the so-called Katie Couric Effect is a good thing. Dr. Cram says it definitively shows the media can have a positive influence on getting people to improve their health care if the right message is given to the right people. Other celebrities and politicians have had what’s perceived as an impact on the awareness of diseases, but Cram says this is the first study he’s aware of that’s focused on proving the existence of that impact. Cram says actor Michael J. Fox may have increased fundraising for Parkinson’s Disease or President Reagan may have increased awareness for Alzheimer’s, that never was rigorously shown. He says the findings of this study suggest a celebrity spokesperson can have a substantial impact on public participation in preventive care.
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