Message Framing for Health: Moderation by Perceived Susceptibility and Motivational Orientation in a Diverse Sample of Americans

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Abstract

Objective:

The present study examined how gain- and loss-framed informational videos about oral health influence self-reported flossing behavior over a 6-month period, as well as the roles of perceived susceptibility to oral health problems and approach/avoidance motivational orientation in moderating these effects.

Method:

An age and ethnically diverse sample of 855 American adults were randomized to receive no health message, or either a gain-framed or loss-framed video presented on the Internet. Self-reported flossing was assessed longitudinally at 2 and 6 months.

Results:

Among the entire sample, susceptibility interacted with frame to predict flossing. Participants who watched a video where the frame (gain/loss) matched perceived susceptibility (low/high) had significantly greater likelihood of flossing at recommended levels at the 6-month follow-up, compared with those who viewed a mismatched video or no video at all. However, young adults (18–24) showed stronger moderation by motivational orientation than by perceived susceptibility, in line with previous work largely conducted with young adult samples.

Conclusion:

Brief informational interventions can influence long-term health behavior, particularly when the gain- or loss-frame of the information matches the recipient's beliefs about their health outcome risks.

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