The proposed studies investigate a tailored approach to health message framing for promoting oral health behaviors (OHBs). Health message framing is a core aspect of health communication, and involves emphasizing either the benefits of engaging in a behavior (gain frame) or the costs of failing to engage in a behavior (loss frame). The proposed studies will investigate a number of individual difference factors derived from classic and contemporary behavioral theories that are likely to shape people's responses to framed oral health messages and serve as leverage points for tailoring framed messages in oral health interventions. Study 1 is a field study that utilizes an internet-administered survey of a diverse panel of adults who will view either a gain-framed video, loss-framed video, or no video regarding the importance of oral health behaviors, with follow-ups of OHBs across a 6-month period. Study 2 is a laboratory study of a diverse sample of young adults who will read gain-framed, loss-framed, or mixed-framed statements about oral health, and will assess memory for the messages and OHBs across a 1-week period. Analyses will examine (a) the degree to which theoretically-derived individual difference factors (motivational orientation, culture, age) moderate the effects of message framing on OHBs, and (b) the psychological mechanisms that account for these effects. Findings from the proposed study will elucidate the processes that underlie the effects of message framing on health behavior, and will translate into recommendations for how to use message framing to improve OHBs in interventions with diverse populations.
Dental caries, gingivitis and periodontitis are among the most widespread of health problems, and increase one's risk for tooth loss and other serious medical conditions such as stroke and cardiovascular disease. Although regular performance of preventive oral health behaviors such as brushing with a fluoride toothpaste, flossing, and regular dental visits can prevent the onset of these oral health problems, many Americans remain non-adherent to such recommendations. The proposed research aims to investigate a theoretically-guided approach to maximizing the persuasiveness of appeals that promote oral health behaviors. This tailored approach to message framing holds considerable promise in specifying useful guidelines that health professionals, educators, and future intervention researchers can use in developing effective message-based interventions for promoting oral health behaviors.
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