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.”
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.
[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]