Man-Made Messages: Investigating the influence of health messaging on men's physical activity behaviours

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Hatchell, Alexandra
Physical activity , Messages , Risk , Efficacy , Extended parallel process model , Men , Health
Men engage in fewer health-promoting behaviours than women. Despite being more active than women, the majority of men are inactive. Physical activity (PA) decreases the risk of developing numerous chronic conditions and may be an optimal behaviour to target in men’s health interventions. However, informational resources and health-promotion interventions for men are lacking. To address this gap, we conducted two studies using the Extended Parallel Process Model (EPPM; Witte, 1992) as a guiding framework. Study 1 examined relevant and appealing health message content for men and explored the relevance and applicability of EPPM constructs to men’s health messages and PA messages in particular. Four semi-structured focus groups and four semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted. Participants (n=26) easily related to the EPPM constructs. Participants preferred demographically-tailored health messages that addressed modifiable behaviours (e.g. PA) and self-regulatory strategies (e.g. planning) and included reputable sources, strong language, and sex appeal. From these findings, four sets of PA messages with different combinations of risk and efficacy information were developed. Study 2 tested the effectiveness of these EPPM-based messages to increase men’s PA intentions and behaviours. Inactive participants (n=353) were randomly assigned to one of four message groups and read four health messages over four consecutive days. Intentions were assessed at baseline and the first follow-up (Day 5) while manipulation check items were assessed at Day 5. PA behaviour was assessed at baseline and the second follow-up (Day 14). Men who received low efficacy and risk information were less likely to meet the Canadian PA guidelines at Day 14 than men who only received low efficacy information (OR=2.15 95% CI:0.963-4.80, Wald=3.49, p=0.062). Providing risk information led to increases in PA behaviours (F(1, 157)=7.29, p=0.008, d=.22). Intentions to be active were greater in the high efficacy group than the low efficacy group (F(1, 345)=4.10, p=0.044, d=.21). Bivariate correlations indicated a disconnect between fear and efficacy perceptions, intentions, and defensive avoidance. From these collective findings, we provide insight into the EPPM as it relates to men’s PA behaviours, propose preliminary recommendations regarding the development of PA messages for men, and suggest areas for future research.
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