Interpersonal communication as an indirect pathway for the effect of antismoking media content on smoking cessation.

Amsterdam School of Communication Research, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Journal of Health Communication (Impact Factor: 1.61). 02/2011; 16(5):470-85. DOI: 10.1080/10810730.2010.546487
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT In the context of health campaigns, interpersonal communication can serve at least 2 functions: (a) to stimulate change through social interaction and (b) in a secondary diffusion process, to further disseminate message content. In a 3-wave prospective study of 1,079 smokers, the authors demonstrate that mass media messages (antismoking campaigns and news coverage relevant to smoking cessation) have an indirect effect on smoking cessation intention and behavior via interpersonal communication. Exposure to campaigns and news coverage prompts discussion about the campaigns, and, in turn, about smoking cessation. Interpersonal communication regarding smoking cessation then influences intention to quit smoking and attempts to quit smoking. The study finds evidence not only for the social interaction function of interpersonal communication, but also for the secondary diffusion function. A substantial number of smokers who are not directly exposed to the antismoking campaigns are nevertheless indirectly exposed via communication with people who have seen these campaigns. These results imply that encouragement of interpersonal communication can be an important campaign objective.

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    ABSTRACT: The present study experimentally investigated the interplay between interpersonal communication and health message exposure in relation to alcohol consumption intentions. Participants were 174 students who took part in a study on the effects of an antialcohol message. At baseline, the authors assessed intention to refrain from binge drinking. At the second wave (2 weeks later), participants were assigned to the conditions of a 2 (antialcohol message or no-alcohol message) × 2 (alcohol conversation or control conversation) between-subjects design, after which intention was again assessed. Results showed that when participants talked about alcohol (instead of the control topic) and were not exposed to an antialcohol message, they were less inclined to refrain from binge drinking, an effect that was not visible when participants talked about alcohol after viewing an antialcohol message. These findings suggest that health campaign exposure moderates the influence of interpersonal communication on health variables.
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