247981 Engaging adolescents in climate change through information seeking: A risk perception attitude (RPA) framework approach

Monday, October 31, 2011

Erin Mead, MHS , Department of Health, Behavior and Society, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Connie Roser-Renouf, PhD, MS , Center for Climate Change Communication, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA
Rajiv N. Rimal, PhD , Department of Health, Behavior and Society, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
June Flora, PhD, MA , HSTAR-Human Sciences Advanced Research Institute, Stanford University, Menlo Park, CA
Ed Maibach, PhD, MPH , Center for Climate Change Communication, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA
Anthony Leiserowitz, PhD, MS , School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, Yale University, New Haven, CT
Background: Information seeking is an important outcome in health communication research and practice. Increasing adolescents' information seeking may constitute an important step in promoting climate change-reducing behaviors, but research is limited. The risk perception attitude (RPA) framework has been used to predict health information seeking by segmenting audiences according to their risk perceptions and efficacy beliefs. This study used the RPA framework to investigate information seeking behaviors related to climate change among adolescents. Methods: A nationally representative survey of adults and their adolescent children (n=515 pairs) was collected in January and June, 2010, to assess climate change attitudes and behaviors. Respondents were classified into four RPA groups: indifference (low risk, weak efficacy), proactive (low risk, strong efficacy), avoidance (high risk, weak efficacy), and responsive (high risk, strong efficacy). The effect of RPA group membership on adolescents' self-reported information seeking was assessed using linear regression controlling for demographic variables, self-reported climate change information deficiency, and attitudes towards climate change policy and sustainable behaviors. Results: Only 28.0% of adolescents reported any active information seeking in the 30-day recall period. Compared with the indifference groups, proactive adolescents (Β=0.17, p<0.001) and adolescents with proactive (Β=0.17, p<0.001), avoidance (Β=0.19, p<0.001), and responsive (Β=0.19, p<0.001) parents reported greater deficiency in climate change information. Information seeking was negatively associated with information deficiency (Β=-0.31, p<0.001) and positively associated with pro-climate change policy attitudes (Β=0.12, p=0.032). Information seeking was highest among adolescents in the responsive and avoidance groups (Β=0.32, p<0.001, and Β=0.13, p=0.005, respectively). Conclusion: Low levels of information seeking among adolescents indicate the need for media campaigns to stimulate adolescents' active engagement in environmental issues. Parent attitudes play a critical role in stimulating this engagement. Using the RPA framework, researchers and educators can meaningfully segment adult and adolescent audiences for interventions to motivate information seeking on climate change.

Learning Areas:
Communication and informatics
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
- Describe key risk perceptions and efficacy factors among parents and children that predict adolescents' information seeking. - Design an intervention using the Risk Perception Attitude (RPA) framework to target audience segments to increase adolescents' engagement in environmental issues.

Keywords: Communication, Climate Change

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I have a Masters of Health Science degree from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and am currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Social & Behavioral Sciences at the same institution. I work on research studies that investigate the associations between attitudes and behaviors, such as attitudes about climate change and engagement in sustainable behaviors.
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.