"Grey’s Anatomy" might not appear to be educational TV, but according to a study entitled "Television as a Health Educator" released this week by the Kaiser Family Foundation, it and other entertainment media can provide important health information to viewers.
Writers of the popular show collaborated with researchers on a particular episode to include accurate health information–specifically, that an HIV-positive woman who is properly treated has a 98% chance of having a healthy baby. They surveyed viewers before and after the episode aired to determine whether knowledge about that fact increased. And it seems to have done so: After it aired, correct answers to questions on the subject increased four-fold.
Another study, "How Healthy is Prime Time?", measured the prevalence of health story lines in popular TV shows. It analyzed three seasons of top-ten-rated prime time scripted shows and found that six out of ten had at least one health story line. According to the press release, these two studies suggest that entertainment television can be a powerful tool for teaching viewers about health.