Qualitative study to explore Prospect Theory and message framing and diet and cancer prevention-related issues among African American adolescents

Jessie A Satia, Jameta Barlow, Janelle Armstrong-Brown, Joanne L Watters
Cancer Nursing 2010, 33 (2): 102-9

BACKGROUND: There is a dearth of knowledge regarding factors that may motivate African American adolescents to consume healthier diets.

OBJECTIVE: To develop and test cancer prevention messages based on Prospect Theory on motivation to improve dietary intake in African American adolescents and to explore other salient factors that may inform dietary intervention design and implementation in this population.

METHODS: Semistructured in-person qualitative interviews were conducted with 13 African American male and female adolescents, aged 12 to 16 years, in North Carolina. Prospect Theory and message framing were used to guide the design of the 4 sets of diet-related messages related to cancer prevention: short-term, gain-framed; long-term, gain-framed; short-term, loss-framed; and long-term, loss-framed messages. Data were also collected on demographic, behavioral, and psychological factors; usual health behaviors; and preferences for intervention delivery.

RESULTS: Most respondents found the gain-framed, short-term messages most salient for both fruits/vegetables (8 [61.5%]) and fat consumption (7 [53.8%]). For fat consumption only, 2 (15.4%) found the loss-framed, short-term messages pertinent; none found the loss-framed, long-term messages relevant for either dietary variable. All indicated interest in participating in a dietary intervention/education program; most preferred the Internet as a channel for intervention delivery. Participants expressed diverse views regarding knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs regarding healthy eating.

CONCLUSION: The gain-framed, short-term messages were most salient for motivating the majority of respondents to consume a healthy diet and most expressed a strong interest in participating in programs about diet and nutrition, with the Internet as the preferred communication channel.

IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: Researchers conducting dietary interventions and education initiatives and medical professionals who counsel African American adolescents should consider using Prospect Theory as a theoretical framework, should focus on gain-framed, short-term messages regarding cancer prevention, and should use the Internet for data collection and intervention and information delivery.

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