Consumer Health Information Source Book

By Alan M. Rees | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4

Consumer Health Magazines and Newsletters

The number of health magazines and newsletters is beginning to level off in view of a saturated marketplace. Consumer reliance on magazines and newsletters has diminished due to the wide array of alternate source of information, particularly rapid and inexpensive Internet access and the dissemination of consumer health information by many major hospitals and clinics. No significant increase in subscription price has occurred, and the circulation continues to vary from millions (Prevention, American Health for Women, Harvard Health Letter) to a few thousand dedicated readers.

Many of the magazines and newsletters are well focused and target market segments, such as women (Harvard Women's Health Watch, Mayo Clinic Women's Health Source), children (Child Health Alert, Parenting), the elderly (Modern Maturity, Johns Hopkins Health Letter for People over 50), vegetarians (Vegetarian Journal, Vegetarian Times), and men (Men's Healthy Harvard Men's Health Watch). Other market segments include alternative medicine enthusiasts (Healthy and Natural Journal,NaturalHealth, Alternatives), those opposed to health fraud and quackery (Health Letter, NCAHF Newsletter), persons concerned with heart disease (Harvard Heart Letter, Cleveland Clinic Heart Advisor), and those concerned with nutrition (Environmental Nutritionn, Nutrition Action Health Letter).

One significant area of growth in the magazine industry lies in women's publications. A story in the New York Times (June 24, 2001) describes this flourishing growth segment of the market: “Where there were two or three, now there is a health magazine for every stage of a woman's life, offering coverage of everything from the mommy track to menopause, from kundalini yoga to Kegel exercises, food allergies to folic acid.” Circulation of magazines aimed at women is healthy. Fitness (1.1 million annually), Health (1.3 million), Self (1.2 million), and Shape (1.6 million) attest to this trend. Other magazine titles include Pregnancy, Healthy Pregnancy, Mamm, and Living Fit. A lesser growth trend exists in men's magazines with Men's Health, Men's Fitness, and Men's Journal.

The content of popular health magazines and newsletters is highly varied. Typically offered are review articles; in-depth analyses of major medical problems, diseases, and conditions; questions and answers; news notes; abstracts and digests from the pro fessional literature; newly approved drugs; reports of research and breakthroughs; book and video reviews; personal narratives; listings of support organizations and self-help groups; and editorial comment. In recent years, there has been a move toward the inclusion of articles related to access, cost of drugs, quality of health care, Medicare reform, managed care, prescription drug coverage, and health care policy in addition to straight medical news. Many publications now feature, on a regular basis, news of the Medicare debate, buying guides for health products, tips on se-

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