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Raising awareness of hypertension risk through a web-based framing intervention: Does consideration of future consequences make a difference?

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Approximately, one third of people with hypertension are unaware that they have the condition. However, little research has explored the efficacy of interventions to raise awareness of this serious problem. This study had two main objectives: (1) To explore the efficacy of a web-based intervention aimed at raising awareness of the risks associated with high blood pressure and hypertension; (2) To examine the role of the personality variable, consideration of future consequences (CFC) in influencing the effectiveness of the intervention. A 2 (message framing: loss vs. gain)×2 (function: prevention vs. detection)×2 (CFC: low vs. high) between-subjects design was employed. Participants were randomly allocated to read one of four messages on a health website. Time spent reading additional health information was utilised as the dependent variable. A significant message frame by CFC interaction was found indicating a loss frame advantage for participants high in CFC and a gain frame advantage for those low in CFC. After reading the loss frame, participants high in CFC spent almost twice as long as those low in CFC reading the additional health information, whereas after reading the gain frame, participants low in CFC read longer than those high in CFC. This study demonstrates that a simple, theory-driven, web-based intervention has the capacity to increase information seeking about hypertension and highlights the importance of tailoring health communication messages to individual characteristics in order to maximise their effectiveness.
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Keywords: consideration of future consequences; health communication; high blood pressure; intervention; message framing; prospect theory

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Institute of Psychological Sciences, University of Leeds, UK 2: Department of Psychology, University of Bath, UK

Publication date: March 1, 2009

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