Framing Depression

Individual, Societal, and Social Network Responsibility Attributions in Media Coverage


  • Annemarie Wiedicke Department of Media and Communication, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Germany
  • Doreen Reifegerste School of Public Health, University of Bielefeld, Germany
  • Linn Julia Temmann Department of Communication, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Germany
  • Sebastian Scherr Department of Media, Knowledge, and Communication, University of Augsburg, Germany



responsibility frames, media coverage, social epidemiological research, content analysis, depression


Responsibility framing research on health issues typically investigates the attribution of responsibility for causes and treatment options to either the individual or society. However, social epidemiological perspectives also stress the relevance of an individual’s social network and underline that the three levels of responsibility (individual, social network, and society) interact. Given that media portrayals can affect public perceptions, attitudes, responsibility attributions, and emotions, we examined causal and treatment responsibility attributions on these three levels in the media coverage of depression. Our quantitative content analysis of major German print and online news media from 2011 to 2020 (N = 755) shows that responsibility is not only assigned to the individual and societal level, but both to the social network and to interactions between the three levels. Our findings additionally stress that key events may influence the portrayal of responsibility in media coverage, but resulting changes are only short-term.




How to Cite

Wiedicke, A., Reifegerste, D., Temmann, L. J., & Scherr, S. (2022). Framing Depression: Individual, Societal, and Social Network Responsibility Attributions in Media Coverage. European Journal of Health Communication, 3(3), 92–117.



Original Research Paper