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Framing Messages for Teen Smoking Prevention in Primary Care

Principal Investigator: Darren Mays / Cindy Tworek

Funding Mechanism: National Institutes of Health- Grant

ID number: 1 R03 CA162839-01A1

Award Date: 9/19/2012

Institution: Georgetown University


Anti-smoking messages are typically framed to emphasize either the benefits of smoking avoidance (gain-framed) or the costs of smoking to health (loss-framed). Message framing theory suggests that gain-framed messages are superior to loss-framed messages for preventing teen smoking, but research in this area remains scarce. Understanding the effects of framed messages and the factors that influence message framing effects is critical to optimize their impact as a public health tool to prevent teen smoking. The goal of the study is to determine whether brief gain- and/or loss-framed messages are an effective strategy to motivate teens to use online prevention resources offered following a primary care visit. Study aims are: (1) to develop and evaluate the effects of gain- and loss-framed messages on teens’ utilization of an evidence-based online smoking prevention resource ("A Smoking Prevention Interactive Experience," or ASPIRE) offered as an adjunct to pediatric primary care; (2) to investigate the influence of social and psychological moderators on the impact of framed messages on ASPIRE utilization; and (3) to examine the impact of framed messages and ASPIRE utilization on teens’ smoking susceptibility. Participants will include a total of 295 healthy teens (10 subjects for message development, 285 subjects for the experimental study) aged 12-17 receiving pediatric primary care. In a three-group experimental study design, subjects will receive either a gain- or loss-framed message or a generic message that will introduce teens to ASPIRE. After viewing messages, subjects will have the option to access ASPIRE online immediately with continued access for 30 days and will complete a one-month follow-up assessment of ASPIRE use and smoking-related outcomes. This study may inform national prevention strategies leveraging framed messages to prevent youth smoking, such as the use of loss-framed health warning labels on cigarette packages.


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