Teens favor gain-framed messages

We all love immediate gains. Health education messages should also follow this simple truth whenever possible. 

How can we design such messages?

While I was searching for a study based on this reality, I stumbled upon the following qualitative study published in Cancer Nursing journal, designed and conducted by Satia et al., in 2010.  

They have designed 4 messages to promote fruits and vegetable consumption among African – American teens. Those were as follows: 

1. Short-term, gain-framed message: “If you eat high in fruits and vegetables, you will have more energy and are more likely to maintain a healthy weight.” 

2. Long-term, gain-framed message: “If you eat high in fruits and vegetables, you will have a lower risk of cancer over your lifetime.” 

3. Short-term, loss-framed message: “If you do not eat high in fruits and vegetables, you will have less energy and more likely to be overweight.” 

4. Long-term, loss-framed message: “If you do not eat high in fruits and vegetables, you are more likely to develop cancer over your lifetime.”

Findings: 
They found that 61% favoured short-term gain-framed message, while 30% favoured the long-term gain-framed message. The rest favoured the “short-term loss-framed message. None favoured the long-term loss-framed message. 

Reference 

[Satia JA et al., 2010. A Qualitative study to explore Prospect theory and message framing and diet and cancer prevention-related issues among African American adolescents, Cancer Nurs. 33(2): 102-109]

Author: Prasantha De Silva

A specialist in Community Medicine board-certified in Sri Lanka and a research analyst in Canada

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