The Match Game: Investigating the Effect of Message Framing on Parents’ Intentions to Vaccinate Their Children Against HPV
Gainforth, Heather Louise
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In Canada, parental acceptance and uptake of the HPV vaccine has been low. There is a need for more effective HPV vaccination health messages for parents. Whether a message is framed in terms of the benefits of engaging in the behaviour (gain frame), the costs of failing to engage in the behaviour (loss frame) or both the benefits and the costs (mixed frame) has potential to impact parents’ decision making. The appropriate frame of a message may depend on the recipient’s sex and involvement with the health issue. The purpose of this study was to investigate the persuasiveness of gain-, loss- and mixed-framed messages on mothers’ and fathers’ intentions to have their young son or daughter vaccinated against HPV. The study used a 3 Frame x 2 Sex of Parent x 2 Sex of Child design. We randomly assigned participants (n=367) to read a framed message and then complete a 29-item questionnaire assessing theoretical determinants of parental consent for vaccination. ANCOVAs revealed a three-way interaction for intentions to speak to a doctor about the HPV vaccine, F(2, 342)=3.66, p =.03, perceived severity of HPV, F(2, 347) = 3.10, p = .05, and for anxiety about their child contracting HPV, F(2, 342)=3.58, p=.02. Effect size comparisons revealed that gain-framed messages seem to persuade parents who are the opposite sex to the child for whom they are considering the vaccine. In turn, loss- and mixed-framed messages may persuade parents who are the same sex as the child for whom they are considering the vaccine. Perceived severity of HPV and anxiety about HPV mediated the relationship between message frame and intentions for some parent-child dyads. Findings have implications for constructing effective messages encouraging parents to consider having their child vaccinated against HPV.