Television is often regarded as a detrimental influence; indeed, on the first page of Prescription TV: Therapeutic Discourse in the Hospital and at Home (Duke University Press), Queens College Media Studies Professor JOY V. FUQUA reports that as a child, she was barred from watching it. But in 1950, when hospitals first made TV available to patients as an amenity, it was considered therapeutic entertainment, like film and radio. Within the following decade, as private and semi-private rooms replaced open wards, the individually controlled screen became a critical element in the effort to make health care facilities seem less institutional and more like an extension of home. Television manufacturers, of course, promoted this trend. Fuqua tracks TV’s evolving medical role to the present day, when direct marketing of prescription drugs on television and the Internet has changed the dissemination of information and created the contemporary consumer-patient.
Assistant Director of News Services