Myrick, J. G., Willoughby, J. F., Noar, S. M., & Brown, J. (in press). Reactions of young adults to the death of Apple CEO Steve Jobs: Implications for cancer communication. Communication Research Reports.
On Oct. 5, 2011, the CEO of Apple, Inc., Steve Jobs, died from pancreatic cancer. Media outlets covered the event with fervor and the public responded in kind. The purpose of this study was to examine public reaction to Jobs’ death from pancreatic cancer in relation to general and health-specific information seeking as well as interpersonal communication. Using a survey conducted within weeks of Jobs’ death (N=401), we found high awareness of this event and significant amounts of information seeking and interpersonal communication with regard to his death. We also found that emotional responses to his death were the best predictors of related health communication behaviors. Along with descriptive findings of who communicated, with whom, when, and about what, our findings provide guidance for health communicators, who may use celebrity cancer announcements or deaths to capitalize on increased attention to the disease.