Table 2

Thematic Categories Used to Code Respondents' General Reactions to the Public Health Essay.



Lack of Evidence and/or Stylistically Confusing

(Critique of Proof/Style)

Remarks indicate that adequate evidence was not given to support the arguments made (e.g., "it needs to include references to studies ... instead of just making ... these general statements") or that the essay was written poorly or was confusing (e.g., "I kind of see what they're saying, but to me it seems a little off-track with the rest of the essay").

Reflects Personal Point of View

(Reflects My POV)

Remarks indicate agreement with the statement(s) in the essay (e.g., "... it captures what I believe," or "I strongly agree with this essay").

Informative and/or Thought-Provoking


Remarks indicate that valuable information was provided (e.g., "It's informative, a lot of things I didn't know relate to global warming") or the essay sparked some self-reflexive thought processes (e.g., "It kind of opened my eyes up ...").

Biased and/or Alarmist


Remarks indicate that the essay was written from a biased point of view or that the intention of the essay was to unjustly alarm the reader, (e.g., "There's an agenda ... to promote the junk science of global warming" or "It felt like scare tactics").

Evoked Negative Emotion, Fear, or Despair


Remarks indicate the essay prompted negative feelings such as despair, lack of hope, fear, depression, or alarm.


Remarks indicate useful information was provided on how to counter global warming (e.g., "... it's a good summation of how we should direct our research and direct our habits ..." or "it focused on how we can take action to make positive change").

Establishes Credibility


Remarks express that the essay established credibility by providing specific examples such as West Nile virus or by referencing expert sources and authorities such as the World Health Organization or The Lancet.

American-centric or Too Closely Focused on the U.S. Perspective

(Too U.S. Centric)

Remarks indicate that the essay focused too much on the United States with not enough of a global focus (e.g., "I felt they left out the world in general and focused specifically on just America ... it's not just the United States that needs to make changes").

Not Applicable


Remarks lacked relevant content or fell outside any of the above themes.

Maibach et al. BMC Public Health 2010 10:299   doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-299

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