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Advancing Perceived Message Effectiveness: A New Measure for Youth Prevention Media Campaigns

Principal Investigator(s): Seth Michael Noar
    
Funding Mechanism: Intra-Departmental Delegation of Authority

ID number: 1R01CA246600-01

Award Date: September 17, 2019

Institution: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


Among other tools, the FDA uses the perceived message effectiveness (PME) scale to select ads for The Real Cost campaign. However, this scale has some limitations, including: (1) it was developed with adult smokers; (2) it was developed before the advent of e-cigarettes and vaping; and (3) it assesses message PME (beliefs about the message; i.e., “This ad is informative”), while a growing body of literature suggests that effects PME (beliefs about the message’s impact; i.e., “This ad gives me good reasons not to smoke”) better predicts the impact of ads on intention and behavior change. The goals of this project are to develop and validate an effects PME scale for adolescent (aged 13-17) tobacco prevention and to compare the performance of this new scale to the FDA’s current message PME scale. Study aims are: (1) to develop a youth effects PME scale for vetting cigarette and e-cigarette prevention ads; (2) to establish whether effects and message PME prospectively predict the impact of smoking prevention ads on intentions to smoke cigarettes; and (3) to examine whether effects and message PME predict the impact of vaping prevention ads on intentions to vape. To achieve Aim 1, researchers will develop a youth effects PME scale for vetting cigarette and e-cigarette prevention ads. They will develop and refine an item pool, cognitively test items with 48 adolescents, and conduct a scale development study with a national sample of 800 adolescents. To achieve Aim 2, researchers will randomize 1,280 adolescents at risk of cigarette smoking to one of three The Real Cost cigarette prevention ad conditions or to a control ad condition; participants will view a set of ads each week and complete a final assessment at week 3, and the researchers will examine whether PME predicts the impact of ads on intentions to smoke, risk beliefs about smoking, and smoking behavior. To achieve Aim 3, researchers will randomize 1,024 adolescents to view three The Real Cost e-cigarette ads or to a control ad condition and examine whether PME predicts the impact of e-cigarette ads on intentions to vape and risk beliefs. Findings may help campaign designers select more effective ads, thereby increasing the impact of tobacco education campaigns targeted to youth.