20 Years of ER

This year marks 20 years since the television drama ER premiered.  While I have not blogged before about the show, it was the first show that really “hooked” me; the first show that I would watch for hours on end.  It also really sparked my interest in entertainment education, or how TV shows and other forms of media can be used for educational purposes.  With that in mind, here are some studies that have been done through the years on ER and its ability to teach people and impact people’s views of healthcare. This is not meant to be a comprehensive list, although I did try to find as many as possible!

First, I would like to promote a book that I helped update a few years back called Playing Doctor: Television, Storytelling and Medical Power, by Joseph Turow.  The updated version looks at the landscape of medical TV shows since the book’s initial publication 1989.  For the updated version I watched episodes of ER and cataloged the time spent on different topics, such as ethical or health policy issues.  The book discusses how ER really ushered in an era of portraying doctors as human beings with flaws rather than god-like creatures, and also how it influenced the creation of many more doctor shows such as Grey’s Anatomy and House M.D. Check it out 🙂

Moving on, here are some studies that look at ER in the context of entertainment education:

1) An alcohol message beneath the surface of ER: how implicit memory influences viewers’ health attitudes and intentions using entertainment-education (2014)

2) Medical dramas on television: a brief guide for educators (2013)

3) Teaching Health Literacy Using Popular Television Programming: A Qualitative Pilot Study. (2010)

4) Medical and nursing students’ television viewing habits: potential implications for bioethics (2008).

5) Entertainment-education in a media-saturated environment: examining the impact of single and multiple exposures to breast cancer storylines on two popular medical dramas. (2008)

6) How an ER Storyline Helped Pass the Patient Navigator Act (2007)

7) Evaluating a Minor Storyline on ER About Teen Obesity, Hypertension, and 5 A Day (2007)

8) Embedding Health Messages into Entertainment Television: Effect on Gay Men’s Response to a Syphilis Outbreak (2005)

9) Entertainment Education and Health in the United States (2004).

10) Communicating Health Information Through The Entertainment Media (2001)

11) The “ER” Seminar: Teaching Psychotherapeutic Techniques to Medical Students. (2001)

12) The role of the television drama ER in medical student life: entertainment or socialization? (1998)

13) Throw that epidemiologist out of the emergency room! Using the television series ER as a vehicle for teaching methodologists about medical issues. (1997)

And here are some studies on the reality of ER:

1) An assessment of resuscitation quality in the television drama Emergency Room: guideline non-compliance and low-quality cardiopulmonary resuscitation lead to a favorable outcome? (2014)

2) ER vs. ED: A Comparison of Televised and Real-Life Emergency Medicine (2013)

3) Depiction of seizure first aid management in medical television dramas (2011).

4) The depiction of illness and related matters in two top-ranked primetime network medical dramas in the United States: a content analysis. (2010)

5) Resuscitation on television: realistic or ridiculous? A quantitative observational analysis of the portrayal of cardiopulmonary resuscitation in television medical drama. (2009)

6) Cardiopulmonary resuscitation on television. Miracles and misinformation. (1996)

Happy Reading!


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