The Influence of Skills, Message Frame, and Visual Aids on Prevention of Sexually Transmitted Diseases

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In a large three week longitudinal study, we investigated the efficacy of framed messages for promoting condom use in sexually active young adults. We also investigated the influence of key risk literacy skills (i.e., numeracy and graph literacy) and visual aids (i.e., icon arrays) on the efficacy of framed messages. Finally, we investigated the underlying psychological mechanisms of behavioral change on the ability of icon arrays to improve message effectiveness. Results showed that framed messages including icon arrays increased adherence to self-reported condom use by giving rise to enduring changes in attitudes and behavioral intentions, which influenced behavior. Icon arrays were found to be most beneficial among young adults with relatively low numeracy as long as they had high graph literacy. These findings build on the previous research in risk communication and extend psychological theories of health-related decision making such as the theory of planned behavior. These findings also map the conditions under which well-constructed visual aids can be among the most effective, transparent, and ethically desirable means of risk communication. Implications for risk communication and informed medical decision making are discussed. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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Journal of Behavioral Decision Making