Impact Studies

east los high

East Los High was evaluated on multiple storylines such as reproductive health, youth advocacy and access to affordable health care.

How do TV health storylines affect us? When a significant health or climate change storyline with a strong call to action is scheduled to air, HH&S frequently works with the show to examine the impact of the storyline on viewers’ knowledge, attitudes, and behavior. 

These audience impact studies are conducted by HH&S research staff in collaboration with faculty, graduate students, and subject matter experts from USC and beyond, using both quantitative methods (such as cross-sectional and longitudinal surveys) and qualitative methods (such as focus groups and analysis of social media chatter). When possible we also coordinate with the show to connect viewers with additional resources through links placed on the show’s website or public service announcements featuring the talent. By tracking web traffic and hotline calls driven by this supplementary content, we are able to evaluate the degree to which viewers are inspired to take specific action steps. 

We have evaluated the impact of numerous television storylines, the results of which have been published in peer-reviewed journals and reports, and presented at academic and professional conferences. Our impact studies are described below. 

A printable summary of our research and evaluation projects and publications is available here.

Various Indian Soap Operas (Expected to air early 2018)

  • Content: Indian TV storylines on family planning, birth spacing, delaying marriage, empowerment of women
  • Methods: Longitudinal in-person interviews of viewers of key shows and networks
  • Status: Baseline data analysis underway; storylines preparing to air


American Crime (ABC) – Multiple episodes, Season 3 (Aired March-April 2017)

  • Content: TV storylines on immigration, opioid abuse, abortion, human trafficking
  • Methods: Cross-sectional online study of viewers; experimental study (abortion storyline)
  • Status: Cross-sectional study – analysis in progress; experimental study of abortion storyline – preparing to launch


Rethink Aging (HH&S original videos; “The Entrepreneur” (Released Jan. 30, 2017) and “The Student” (Released Feb. 25, 2017)

  • Content: Two original videos addressing stereotypes about older adults and aging
  • Methods: Experimental study comparing videos to text article
  • Status: Report completed: Cafferty, L.A., & Rosenthal, E.L. (2017, November). Rethink Aging: Key findings from Rethink Aging original content videos. A Report to the SCAN Foundation. Hollywood, Health & Society, USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center. Beverly Hills, CA.


Grey’s Anatomy (ABC)—Multiple episodes, Season 13 (Aired Feb. 9, March 23, March 30, 2017)

  • Content: TV storyline on inflammatory breast cancer, with minor storyline on clinical trials
  • Methods: Longitudinal online survey of Grey’s Anatomy viewers
  • Status: Data analysis in progress


Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (CW) – Multiple episodes, Season 2 (Aired November 4 & 11, 2016)

  • Content: TV storyline on abortion
  • Methods: To be determined
  • Status: Designing study


Code Black (CBS) – “Landslide” (Aired November 2, 2016)

  • Content: TV storyline on MMR vaccine hesitancy
  • Methods: Experimental study
  • Status: Preparing to launch


East Los High (Hulu)—Multiple episodes, Season 4 (Aired July 13, 2016)

  • Content: Web series storylines on abortion, alcohol abuse, immigration and political engagement
  • Methods: Longitudinal survey of East Los High viewers
  • Status: Under review: Walter, N., Murphy, S.T., & Rosenthal, E.L. Not your mother’s soap opera: How binge-watching, second-screening, and co-viewing influence edutainment.
  • Presentation: Walter, N., Murphy, S.T., & Rosenthal, E.L. (2017, May). Paper presented at the “Narrative Persuasion: From Research to Practice” pre-conference of the International Communication, Los Angeles, CA.


Code Black (CBS)—Multiple episodes (Aired November-December 2015)


Code of Silence (Royal Arts Academy/Nollywood Workshops)—Film (Premiered Aug. 7, 2015)

More about our partnership with global centers in Nigeria and India


Royal Pains (USA)—“The Prince of Nucleotides” (Aired June 23, 2015)


East Los High (Hulu)—Multiple episodes, Season 3 (Aired July 15, 2015)

  • Content: Web series storylines on domestic violence, immigration, barriers to health care, sexually transmitted infections
  • Methods: Cross-sectional online survey of East Los High viewers with comparison group of non-viewers matched demographically; analysis of Twitter data mentioning key topics in relation to East Los High
  • Status: Manuscript in preparation


The Daily Show (Comedy Central)—“The Snacks of Life” (Aired March 17, 2015)

  • Content: Satirical news segment addressing nutrition and the food industry 
  • Methods: Longitudinal online survey of general U.S. population, experimental study comparing The Daily Show segment to traditional video and print news
  • Status: Presentation and report of preliminary findings complete; manuscript in preparation: Rosenthal, E.L., Kaplan, M., Rogers, A.A., & Folb, K.L.
  • Presentation: Kaplan, M. (2015, September). Hollywood and Dine: The Image and Impact of Food in Entertainment. Presented at Expo Milano 2015 (USA Pavilion), Milan, Italy.
  • Preliminary Findings: Rosenthal, E.L., Kaplan, M., Folb, K.L., & Rogers, A.A. (2015, August). Fake News, Real Knowledge: The Impact of Food and Nutrition Messages on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Preliminary Research Findings). A Report by Hollywood, Health & Society, USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center: Beverly Hills, CA. 


Hamari Sister Didi (Sony PAL, India)—Multiple episodes (Aired October-November 2014)

  • Content: Indian TV storylines on vaccination, family planning, maternal and child health
  • Methods: Longitudinal in-person interviews of women aged 18-49 who watched Hamari Sister Didi, across 5 locations Uttar Pradesh, India
  • Status: Report of preliminary findings published: Riley, A.H. & Rosenthal, E.L. (2015, April). Hamari Sister Didi: Evaluation Highlights. Key Findings from Preliminary Research in India: A Report to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Hollywood, Health & Society, USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center. Beverly Hills, CA. 

East Los High (Hulu)—Multiple episodes, Seasons 2 (Aired July-September 2014) and 3 (Aired July 2015)

  • Content: Web series storylines on reproductive health, advocacy, health care (Affordable Care Act), domestic violence, immigration, barriers to care, STIs
  • Methods: Cross-sectional online pre/post study of regular East Los High viewers
  • Status: Manuscript in preparation: Rosenthal, E.L., Zavahir, Y., & Backes, K.L.

90210 (CW)—Multiple episodes, Season 4 (Aired March-May 2012)


Law & Order: SVU (NBC)—“Witness” (Aired March 17, 2010)

90210 (CW)—“Off the Rails” (Aired April 7, 2009)


Law & Order: SVU (NBC)—(Aired October 2008)

Desperate Housewives (ABC)—Multiple episodes, Season 4 (Aired September-November 2007)

The Bold and the Beautiful (CBS)—Multiple episodes (Aired October 2007)

Law & Order: SVU (NBC)—“Loophole” (Aired Feb. 6, 2007)

  • Content: TV storylines on toxic substance exposure, cancer clusters
  • Methods: Cross-sectional online survey of U.S. residents (items included in omnibus survey); restricted to occasional L&O: SVU viewers
  • Status: Published: Kennedy, M.G., Turf, E.E., Wilson, M., Wells, K., Huang, G.C., & Beck, V. (2011). Effects of a Television Drama about Environmental Exposure to Toxic Substances. Public Health Reports, 126, Suppl.1, 150-159. 

Grey’s Anatomy (ABC)—Multiple episodes, Season 2 (Aired March-May, 2006)
House (FOX)—“Sleeping Dogs Lie” (Aired April 18, 2006)
CSI: NY (CBS)—“Live or Let Die” (Aired March 29, 2006)
House (FOX)—“Sex Kills” (Aired March 7, 2006)
Numb3rs (CBS)—“Harvest” (Aired Jan. 27, 2006)
Grey’s Anatomy (ABC)—“Enough is Enough” (Aired Oct. 2, 2005)

  • Content: Six TV storylines on organ donation and transplantation
  • Methods: Cross-sectional online survey of regular viewers of each show
  • Status: Published

Morgan, S.E., Movius, L., & Cody, M.J. (2009). The power of narratives: The effect of organ donation entertainment television storylines on the attitudes, knowledge, and behaviors of donors and non-donors. Journal of Communication, 59, 135-151. 

Movius, L., Cody, M., Huang, G. & Berkowitz, M. (2007). Motivating television viewers to become organ donors. Cases in Public Health Communication & Marketing, 1

ER (NBC)—“Man With No Name” (Aired October 6, 2005) and “Wake Up” (Aired Oct. 20, 2005)
Grey’s Anatomy (ABC)—“Let it Be” (Aired Nov. 13, 2005)

ER (NBC)—“You Don’t Cut Into Cancer” (Aired April 21, 2005)

ER (NBC)—Multiple episodes, Season 10 (Aired April-May 2004)

  • Content: TV storyline on youth heart disease, obesity, 5 A Day
  • Methods: Longitudinal online survey of regular TV viewers; cross-sectional online survey of viewers of show; cross-sectional population-based mail survey of heavy TV viewers
  • Status: Published: Valente, T.W., Murphy, S.T., Huang, G., Gusek, J., Greene, J. & Beck, V. (2007). Evaluating a minor storyline on ER about teen obesity, hypertension and 5 A Day. Journal of Health Communication, 12, 551-566. 

Ladrón de Corazones (Telemundo)—Multiple episodes (Aired October 2003)

ER (NBC)—Multiple episodes, Season 9 (Aired March 2003)

The Bold and the Beautiful (CBS)—Multiple episodes (Aired in Botswana 2002-2003; originally aired August 2001)

The Bold and the Beautiful (CBS)—Multiple episodes (Aired August 2001)