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Warning Labels: Overview

  • By: Warren Bareiss
  • In: Encyclopedia of Health Communication
  • Edited by: Teresa L. Thompson
  • Subject:Public Health Education & Health Promotion, Health Psychology, Health Communication

Warning labels are messages concerning potential health and safety risks of various types of products included on or in packages, advertisements, and directions for use. The ability of warning labels to affect knowledge, perception, attitude, and behavior is dependent upon a number of interrelated factors. Such factors include message design, content, channel, and placement, on one hand, and audience schemas, familiarity, linguistic proficiency, educational level, socioeconomic class, cultural milieu, and age, on the other. Furthermore, regulatory traditions condition the presence, design, and content of warning messages from one nation to the next.

As a form of health media, warning labels have particular characteristics that make them promising means of delivering messages. Because they are often part of the product or package, they can be visible at ...

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