The Radio Doctor: Broadcasting health into the home. Assessing New Zealand's changing public health needs through the talks of Dr H. B. Turbott, 1943 - 1984
|dc.contributor.author||Macindoe, Claire Louise|
|dc.description.abstract||This thesis examines the Department of Health’s most enduring health education series (1943 – 1984), written and presented over the radio by Department of Health official Dr Harold Bertram (H.B.) Turbott. The cultural impact of radio has received little historical attention in New Zealand, particularly in relation to health. I argue that the use of radio to promote health was significant as the intimate and ephemeral nature of the medium allowed for the discussion of subjects that would have not been permissible through other media forms. Radio broadcasting crossed geographical, racial and gendered divides, reaching into the intimate realm of the home. The new technology of the radio was used to connect the widely dispersed and geographically isolated population of New Zealand, keeping citizens informed and educated. Although more-often associated with entertainment, radio was established as a reliable source of information during the interwar period. The Second World War led to limited resources and gave increased urgency to health concerns that had been raised prior to 1940. As a result, the Department of Health implemented a push to educate the public on matters of health. Radio’s popularity and established role within the home made it a key medium for communicating ideas regarding health. Dr Turbott was selected by the Department of Health to front their new health outreach programme. He had exhibited a long-term commitment to public health in New Zealand, and was experienced in child and Māori health. Beginning in 1943, Dr Turbott broadcast health talks each morning, six days a week, covering a wide variety of health topics. Initially implemented as a temporary response to the war, a measure of their success was the continuation of these talks through until 1984. Radio broadcasts were clearly perceived to be effective in communicating health messages to the wider public. This study ties together radio and health history, both areas that underwent rapid change over the course of the twentieth century. Dr Turbott’s health broadcasts are an untapped resource. The content and language provide insight into how the public understood health over a forty-year span. The longitudinal nature of my study, the singular focus on one programme, and the close examination of the subject of Dr Turbott’s talks and how they evolved over time allows for an in-depth analysis of the Department of Health’s changing health priorities between 1943 - 1984. Over the course of forty years we can see several shifts in the advice provided by Dr Turbott. Discussion during the 1940s represented a direct response to wartime conditions and pre-war concerns. Practical advice regarding nutrition and child rearing featured along with discussion of communicable disease and the threat of ‘race suicide’. Considered a ‘golden period’ by some, the 1950s were a time of health crisis. Poliomyelitis was a prime example, indicating that antibiotics had not eradicated all forms of communicable disease. Urbanisation and increased prosperity saw the rise of new health threats, while teenage rebellion threatened post-war conformity. Preventative medicine measures faced greater scrutiny, as citizens questioned the right of their government to forcibly ‘medicate’ their water supplies or restrict their access to raw milk. The threat of infectious disease lessened over the following decades, and diseases of lifestyle and longevity rose, causing a shift from a focus on communicable to lifestyle diseases. Cancer and heart disease were an increasing public health concern. Changing attitudes in the younger generation caused Turbott to discuss controversial health issues, such as drug use and contraception. Ageing healthfully was featured with growing frequency during Turbott’s final years of broadcasting, reflecting his own advanced age and an ageing population. Turbott retired from broadcasting in 1984. Radio had been fighting to maintain its popularity in competition with television and radio executives wanted presenters who related to a younger audience. Turbott’s forty years of radio health talks are significant as they track changes in health understanding, both for professionals and lay audiences. These talks represent a mid-point between Department of Health concerns, professional knowledge of the issues at hand, and public understanding of disease and wellness over an extended period. This thesis argues that the ‘Radio Doctor’ played a key role in how health was understood and discussed by New Zealanders during the twentieth century, through conveying health messages into most homes over a span of forty years.|
|dc.publisher||University of Otago|
|dc.rights||All items in OUR Archive are provided for private study and research purposes and are protected by copyright with all rights reserved unless otherwise indicated.|
|dc.subject||Department of Health|
|dc.title||The Radio Doctor: Broadcasting health into the home. Assessing New Zealand's changing public health needs through the talks of Dr H. B. Turbott, 1943 - 1984|
|thesis.degree.name||Doctor of Philosophy|
|thesis.degree.grantor||University of Otago|
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