Yinjiao Ye, assistant professor of communications studies at the University of Rhode Island, say millions watch medical shows such as "Grey's Anatomy," "House" and "ER," and evidence shows this type of medical programming disseminates health knowledge and changes health attitudes.
The researchers surveyed 274 students in the College of Communications at the University of Alabama about their TV viewing and life satisfaction, but they were not told the purpose of the survey.
The study, published in the journal Mass Communication and Society, finds viewing medical content on TV leads viewers to believe they have a greater likelihood of being victimized by bad risks and that the risks are severe.
Previous research has shown TV viewing can cause people to be less satisfied with their lives because it makes them more materialistic -- overestimating the value of other people's possessions compared to their own, Ye says. The current findings suggest the perception that getting sick and not being able to do much about it can be added as a second cause of life dissatisfaction, Ye says.