Only limited research has been published about women as an audience of health messages in the media. Furthermore, most of the well-known health communication theories have not effectively addressed the sociocultural and political environments that construct the medical/health industry and the media, which impact the everyday lives of women and their decision-making in the area of health. This chapter offers a comprehensive overview of the research conducted on women audiences of health messages in the media. The chapter then critiques this body of knowledge on account of its weak theoretical utility/development potential for women's health decision-making and empowerment. After review and critique, empirical examples are provided from research and related studies on women's media consumption, in order to reconstruct theoretical arguments that reflect women's everyday lives and contribute to women's decision-making about their health. The chapter concludes with an agenda for future research in the area of women as audiences of health communication.
Issues of health are integral to women's everyday lives, especially as women in Western societies continue to be socially constructed as primary healthcare givers and main consumers of healthcare (Bruhn, 1988; Majority of Women Control Health-Care Decisions, 1997; Thirlaway & Heggs, 2005). Women are more likely than men to seek out medical ...