One Message for All? Framing Health Communication to Recognize Diversity
The emphasis on encouraging individuals to participate in monitoring their own health status has led to a rise in the number of voluntary community screening programmes in developed countries. Effective communication strategies are essential to encourage participation so that cost and mortality savings do eventuate. This paper investigates the influence of 'framing' health communication messages as either a 'loss' or a 'gain' to encourage eligible women to participate in a population-based, free breast cancer screening programme. The difference between loss and gain framed messages is that the same objectively equivalent message is presented in terms of what may be lost (for example, through not taking an action), rather than in terms of benefits gained (through taking an action). The key factor is the influence related to the degree of risk associated with the decision which is being made. In accordance with health promotion principles, the communication guidelines for the screening mammography programme in this country strongly emphasise promoting a "positive" message to encourage eligible women to have a mammogram. However, the results from this study illustrated that ethnic minority groups are more likely to respond favourably to 'loss-framed' messages, whereas the mainstream NZ European population more strongly favour a 'gain-framed' message about the desirability of participating in the programme. This suggests that in order to not only increase participation rates among underrepresented groups in the programme, but also achieve cost and mortality savings in the population, it is not appropriate to simply present one message and assume that all ethnic groups will respond similarly.
Keywords: Diversity, Intercultural Understanding, Message Framing, Screening Mammography
Dr. Margaret Brunton
Senior Lecturer, Department of Management and International Business, Massey University, Albany Campus