Writing compelling health content that motivates and initiates behaviour change is an important aspect of our role as health writers.
Below is a collection of recent behaviour change communication research to assist you in writing health content that will not only resonate with your reader but also promote behaviour change.
1. We need more relatable and memorable news stories to influence maternal behaviour change around child safety
A study published in the Journal of Health Communication investigated parental understanding and responses towards media-portrayed messages of child safety.
A cross-sectional survey of 1,081 mothers assessed attitudes, knowledge and behaviour intention after seeing or reading videos and articles on two child-safety topics.
Results showed 32% of participants reported not recalling injury prevention messages.
Nearly half of all participants (46%) reported child-safety stories they had previously read or watched in the media had been confusing at some time point.
More mothers were able to recall information from the narrative of the story rather than the statistic.
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2. Watching TV predicts health information-seeking behaviour on three types of cancer screening behaviours
Researchers from the Ohio State University investigated the impact both televised news and entertainment media had on prostate, breast and colon-cancer screening behaviours.
The impact the televised news and entertainment media was assessed by participant’s health information-seeking behaviour via other media channels.
Data, analysed from the Annenberg National Health Communication Survey indicated regular viewing of news and entertainment television was significantly associated with health information-seeking behaviour.
The study is published in the Journal of Health Communication.
3. Risk communication via Twitter and Facebook impacts preventative risk behaviours
A study from the University of Incheon, South Korea investigated the impact on preventative risk behaviour from risk information seen via Facebook and Twitter.
Survey data from 1,152 South Korean adults was analysed on the topic of fine dust hazards to see if there were differences in the risk information seen between the two platforms.
Results indicated that receiving and expressing risk information influenced risk perceptions which impacted on preventative risk behaviour. There were differences between Twitter and Facebook.
The study is published in the Journal of Health Communication
4. Linking patients’ health concerns with their health behaviours can be met with resistance
A global collaboration of researchers conducted a systematic review of the literature to understand how healthcare professionals can communicate effectively with their patients about health behaviour change.
There were 17,562 studies found through the review process, with ten included in the analysis.
Results highlighted three central domains of health behaviour change communication, including; initiating, carrying out and closing the discussion.
In general, initiating, carrying and closing health behaviour communication was well received by patients. However, when clinicians linked the patient’s health concerns with their health behaviour, patients were resistance to clinicians advice.
The study is published in the BMC Family Practice journal.
5. Sources of health information aimed at promoting health and behaviour change are trusted differently by population groups
Researchers from the Central Queensland University investigated the trust placed in different sources (internet, health professionals, print) of health information in 1128 Australian adults (mean age 59.8 years).
Computer-Assisted-Telephone interviews were carried out, and logistic regression analysis was performed to understand associations between the use and trust of health information based on socio-demographic and health factors.
Results of the analysis showed 33% of participants used the internet to source health information.
The most trusted source of health information was from local health providers (88%), followed by websites (30%) and then print material (29%).
Use was significantly more likely in younger professional females and males with diabetes.
Conclusions of the research paper can is available in the Journal of Communication in Healthcare
6. A 24-week home-based SMS facilitated behaviour change for suffers from osteoarthritis
A study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research investigated the application of the Behaviour Change Wheel (BCW), a validated framework for designing behaviour change interventions.
The BCW was used in the context of developing an SMS to encourage exercise compliance in people with osteoarthritis of the knee.
Researchers from Australia and the UK devised the intervention in two phases.
The first phase identified target behaviours, associated barriers and facilitators as well as behaviour change techniques.
The second phase involved message development of 198 SMS into a 24-week automated-delivery program.
Results from the study depicted a program that targeted participation in a 24-week home-based exercise programme three times per week.
7. Exposure to conflicting health information impacts on prostate and breast cancer screening behaviour
A study published in the Journal of Communication in Healthcare surveyed participants to understand the effect conflicting social media posts had on risk perception and cancer screening behaviour.
US-based researchers randomised participants into four groups within two experiments.
One experiment focused on breast cancer risk perception and the other on prostate cancer.
Both experiments had an intervention (exposure to conflicting social media posts) and a control group (exposure to supportive preventative screening tests without conflict).
Results demonstrated exposure to conflicting social media posts decreased both self-efficacy and response efficacy.
Differences existed between sex such that the uncertainty of the message adversely affected women’s self-efficacy, but not for men.
These findings offer insight into useful health communication messaging around cancer screening and behaviour change.
8. A web-based intervention showed promise as a tool to change eating disorder behaviour
UK-based researchers published a randomised controlled trial to investigate the effectiveness of a web-based intervention (MotivATE) on attendance rates of an eating disorders assessment appointment.
A total of 313 adults participated in the study via referral.
One hundred fifty-six participants were randomised to receive standard treatment. The other 157 were invited to register for the MotivATE treatment, which aimed to increase motivation to change eating disorder behaviour.
The initial analysis did not find any statistically significant differences between the treatment and control group on attendance at assessment; this could be due to the small number of participants who registered for the MotivATE programme.
A secondary analysis found that of that 33.8 % who did engage with the MotivATE programme, there was increased attendance at assessment.
The full study is published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.
9. When health threats arise – the discussion of the rapid development and implementation of a prevention campaign for the Zika virus aimed at pregnant women in Puerto Rico
Researchers from the Centre of Communications in Science, USA discuss the rapid development and implementation of a health campaign.
The health campaign aimed to increase knowledge, motivate and adapt Zika virus prevention behaviours in pregnant women and their families in Puerto Rico.
The development of the campaign principles aligns with behaviour change communication recommendations and provide opportunities to develop future campaigns under similar time-restricted conditions.
The study was published in the Journal of Health Communication.