247162 Online consumer reviews of smoking cessation products: Implications for public health

Monday, October 31, 2011

Petya Eckler, PhD , School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA
Seeking health information online often involves peer-to-peer communication about products or services: reading comments on news groups, websites, blogs or consulting user rankings/reviews of doctors and hospitals. This health electronic word of mouth (health eWOM) is growing in popularity, but no known experiments have tested its effects. An experiment involving online consumer reviews of cessation products (patch and gum) tested three message features (valence, appeal, extremity) for their effects on smokers' attitude toward quitting (Aq) and perceived behavioral control (PBC). 142 people participated, who were current smokers (81.7%) or had quit in the past six months (18.3%) and aged 19 – 69 (M = 33.79, SD = 11.52). Most were female (63.4%) and Caucasian (85.9%). Positive consumer reviews led to higher Aq and negative reviews led to lower Aq F(1, 117) = 10.007, p = .002, partial η2 = .079. Extremity and appeal did not influence Aq. Positive messages caused high PBC and negative messages caused low PBC F(1, 134) = 11.764, p = .001, partial η2 = .081. Extremity interacted with appeal to influence PBC, F(1, 134) = 4.097, p = .045, partial η2 = .030. Findings are important from a public health perspective because they show that peer-to-peer communication about cessation products can affect smokers' attitudes toward quitting and PBC. This can help experts understand how consumers influence and empower one another through eWOM. eWOM is worth exploring further for promoting healthy behaviors because of its low costs of implementation and maintenance and simplified logistics.

Learning Areas:
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Advocacy for health and health education
Communication and informatics
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1)Describe the effects of electronic word of mouth (eWOM) on readers’ health attitudes and perceptions 2)Discuss the implications of eWOM for public health practice and the promotion of healthy behaviors.

Keywords: Health Communications, Internet

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I conduct research in online health communication and health outcomes.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.