Hollywood, Health & Society

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Hollywood, Health & Society

USC program tackles health literacy for film and TV

By Working Nurse
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The entertainment industry is notorious for taking creative liberties with its depiction of real-world healthcare and health issues. A program of the USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center is working to change that, helping Hollywood get things right and recognizing TV shows that do.

Industry Advice

For nurses, watching popular TV shows set in hospitals or involving real health conditions sometimes requires shifting your brain into neutral. The storylines and characters might be fun, but their resemblance to reality is often strictly coincidental. 

Sometimes, accuracy just takes a back seat to dramatic necessity, but writers who don’t have a healthcare background don’t always know where to go for reliable information, particularly on the tight schedule of the average TV show. 

One answer is Hollywood, Health & Society (HHS), a Lear Center program funded by the CDC and a variety of charitable foundations. Established in 1997, HHS has its own research team that provides the entertainment industry with free guidance and expert advice on a whole range of health topics. For writers who have their hearts set on a particular story concept, HHS can even suggest health issues that fit those narrative parameters.

To date, HHS has worked with more than 90 television series across almost every English- and Spanish-language network in the U.S.

Sentinel Awards

Each year, HHS also presents the Sentinel Awards, which honor TV programs — including documentary and news shows as well as entertainment series — that present specific health issues in ways that are both accurate and entertaining. 

Some of the recently announced 2017 Sentinel Award honorees included the sensitive portrayal of inflammatory breast cancer on ABC’s popular “Grey’s Anatomy”; the touching introduction of an autistic Muppet character named Julia to “Sesame Street”; and the discussion of opioid abuse on HBO’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.” 

For a complete list of honorees or to learn more about what HHS does, visit hollywoodhealthandsociety.org.

This article is from workingnurse.com.

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