Theses Doctoral

Can Documentary Films Move the Levers of Discourse Around a Public Health Issue - A Systematic Review

Peltz, Perri Anne

This dissertation explores the potential of documentary films to impact the discourse around a public health issue and in particular the current opioid epidemic. In addition to reviewing the history of drug policy and drug epidemics, this dissertation analyzed an HBO documentary about the opioid epidemic as a means of contextualizing the current crisis and understanding whether documentary can change the narrative around a public health matter.

A systematic review of the literature was conducted to evaluate the existing published evaluation studies relating to the potential role of documentary films to influence the levers of discourse related to the opioid epidemic and related substance use and mental health disorders and found the existing research was limited to fifty-four citations. Documentaries can have a potential impact on public discourse most notably through raising public awareness but the impact is limited as drug use epidemics are complex and multifactorial. Further study is needed to fully understand the role that documentary films can play in shaping public discourse.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Sociomedical Sciences
Thesis Advisors
Bayer, Ronald
Metsch, Lisa R.
Dr.P.H., Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University
Published Here
October 18, 2023