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Cancer Control Research

5R01CA089122-03
Lipkus, Isaac M.
MESSAGE FRAMING EFFECTS ON YOUTH'S SMOKING BEHAVIOR

Abstract

DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Adolescent and young adult smoking cessation programs have applied stage-based and social psychological models of attitude-behavior relations. As teens and young adults experiment with and continue to smoke, they perceive the positive smoking outcomes as more salient than the negative outcomes. As they become regular smokers, their positive attitudes and outcome expectancies towards smoking become more solidified. Conversely, as they contemplate quitting, negative attitudes and negative outcome expectancies become more salient. These findings suggest that there may be optimal moments when the communication of positive and negative aspects of smoking may be most influential at affecting the smoking trajectory. Unfortunately, the extant literature provides very little insights about how to best communicate persuasively the pros of not smoking and cons of smoking among older teens and young adults at various stages of smoking, and possible mechanisms for their presumed effectiveness. Evidence across several health behaviors, and from our pilot data, suggest that people are persuaded differently by messages framed as gains or losses. Gain-framed messages highlight the advantages of either engaging or not engaging in a course of action; loss-frame messages highlight the disadvantages of either engaging or not engaging in a course of action. Larger trials testing the persuasiveness of gain- or loss-framed messages to affect older teens and young adult smokers' (e.g., community college students) intentions to quit and quit attempts, and the mechanisms for their presumed effectiveness are lacking. These issues form the bases of this three-year study. Employing a two-group (gain vs. loss-frame video) pre-post (one and six month) longitudinal experimental design using approximately 390 community college students between the ages of 18-24, the study examines how gain- and loss-framed messages interact with smoking stages of change, as defined by the Transtheoretical Model, to affect: 1) the motivation and intention to quit, and serious quit attempts, and 2) mechanisms for the presumed effectiveness of gain- versus loss-framed messages to affect the aforementioned outcomes as a function of stage. This study is the first to attempt to assess reactions toward persuasively framed cessation messages on the motivation/intentions to quit and quit attempts and mediators for their presumed effectiveness as a function of stage in rarely studied populations of community college student smokers.


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