Research has shown that information given to patients and materials designed to influence health behaviour often fail to achieve their aims. As a result, health professionals need proven strategies to ensure that information is selected, designed and presented appropriately for the target audience. In response, Writing for Health Communication provides a practical guide to designing health information, using evidence-based strategies to engage, inform and persuade different audiences.
The book outlines the steps a writer needs to go through in creating successful materials. Starting with an understanding of how people read and process information and how behaviour is influenced, the book then covers the practicalities of
Choosing an approach; Message framing; Text design and layout; Using graphics; Computer tailoring
Each chapter is illustrated with examples - including both good and bad practice and covering a range of health topics. For students and professionals in healthcare, health promotion, health education and public health, Writing for Health Communication is an invaluable guide to best practice.
Chapter 8: Planning to Frighten People? Think Again!
Planning to Frighten People? Think Again!
Fear arousal messages, called fear appeals, are widely used in health communication. Members of the general population and health promoters who design health communication messages tend to believe in the persuasive power of fear. In this chapter we challenge this belief by examining theory and research evidence relevant to the content, structure and effectiveness of persuasive messages. We will illustrate our argument in relation to the use of health warnings on cigarette packages.
We saw in Chapter 6 that it is important to ensure that the content of health promotion messages is based on relevant, evidence-based theory and elicitation research. Yet research into fear appeals shows that, in most cases, fear appeals are ...