Online Program

Longitudinal effects of narrative versus non-narrative health messages on promoting women's cervical cancer-related knowledge, attitudes and behavior

Monday, November 4, 2013 : 1:30 p.m. - 1:50 p.m.

Sheila Murphy, PhD, Annenberg School of Communication, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Lauren B. Frank, MHS, PhD, Department of Communication, Portland State University, Portland, OR
Joyee S. Chatterjee, PhD, Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, University of Southern California, Marina del Rey, CA
Meghan Bridgid Moran, PhD, School of Communication, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA
Nan Zhao, MPH, Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Lourdes Baezconde-Garbanati, PhD, MPH, Institute for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Research, Department of Preventive Medicine, Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Background: The power and perseverance of stories has been recognized for thousands of years, yet Western medicine often disregards the use of narrative. This research empirically tested whether a fictional narrative produces a larger and longer-lasting impact on health-related knowledge, attitudes, and behavior than the identical information presented in a more traditional, nonfiction, non-narrative format. Method: A random sample of European-American, Mexican-American, and African-American women between the ages of 25-45 living in the Los Angeles area was surveyed at three time points: (1) a pretest before viewing either a narrative or non-narrative cervical cancer-related film; (2) a post-test two weeks after viewing (N = 758); and (3) a six month follow-up survey (N = 704). Results: At two weeks post-viewing, both films produced a significant increase from pretest in cervical cancer-related knowledge and attitudes, but these effects were significantly higher for the narrative film. At six months, viewers of both films retained greater than baseline knowledge and more positive attitudes toward Pap tests. Importantly, at six months women who saw the narrative had more positive change in behavioral intent to be screened and were significantly more likely to have made an appointment for a Pap test than those who saw the non-narrative. Conclusion: These findings underscore the potential of narrative to serve as a valuable and underutilized tool to promote health domestically and abroad and reduce health disparities. Moreover, although this particular research focused on cervical cancer, the results have clear implications for virtually all health communication.

Learning Areas:

Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related education
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Explain the potential benefits of using narrative in health communication. Identify the factors that make a narrative more or less effective in transmitting health-related information.

Keyword(s): Cancer Prevention, Health Promotion

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the principal or co-principal of multiple federally funded grants focusing on cervical cancer prevention behavior, use of narratives in health communication and ethnic differences in health related behavior and decision making. Among my scientific interests has been the development of strategies for innovative health communication campaign methods to produce stronger behavioral impact.
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.