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Health message framing : motivating cardiovascular risk factor screening in young adults.

Description: As the leading cause of death in the United States, coronary heart disease (CHD) is a growing public health problem, despite the fact that many risk factors for the disease are preventable, especially if addressed early in life. The purpose of the current study was to examine the effects of loss-framed versus gain-framed versus information-only health messages on both intention to attend and actual attendance at an appointment to get screened for CHD risk factors (i.e., hypertension, diabetes, and dyslipidemia). It was hypothesized that a population of young adults would be more likely to view screening for CHD risk factors as a low-risk, health-affirming behavior as opposed to a risky, illness-detecting behavior and would thus be more strongly influenced by gain-framed messages than loss-framed messages. Additional goals included the exploration of the extensively researched individual health beliefs of perceived threat (as defined by the health belief model) and health locus of control as they relate to message frames. One hundred forty-three undergraduate students were randomly assigned to either the loss-framed, gain-framed, or information-only control conditions. Framing manipulation checks revealed that participants failed to discern differences in the tone and emphasis of the experimental pamphlets. As a result, no tests of framing effects could be conducted. Sixteen (11.2%) of the 143 participants who participated in Part 1 of the experiment participated in Part 2 (i.e., attended a risk factor screening appointment). Multiple regression analysis revealed risk index, age, and powerful others health locus of control as significant predictors of screening intention. Gender was the only demographic or health related variable that was significantly related to screening outcome, such that women were more likely to get screened than men. Limitations and recommendations are discussed.
Date: August 2008
Creator: Link-Malcolm, Jessica
Partner: UNT Libraries