A  A  A   Print
Young People May Respond Better to Upbeat Health Messages

Young People May Respond Better to Upbeat Health Messages

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Health and safety campaigns with positive messages might better persuade young people to avoid risky behaviors such as smoking and unprotected sex than campaigns that highlight health dangers, a new study suggests.

The study included participants aged 9 to 26 who were asked to estimate their risk of experiencing different kinds of bad events, such as being in a car crash or getting lung disease. They were then shown the actual statistics for such events.

Younger participants were less likely to learn from negative information, while the ability to learn from positive information was the same across all ages in the study, according to the researchers at University College London, in England.

The results -- published in the Sept. 9-13 issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences -- might help shed light on why health warnings and graphic images of diseased lungs on cigarette packaging appear to have had little effect at reducing the number of teens who start smoking, the researchers said.

"The findings could help to explain the limited impact of campaigns targeted at young people to highlight the dangers of careless driving, unprotected sex, alcohol and drug abuse, and other risky behaviors," lead author Dr. Christina Moutsiana said in a Wellcome Trust news release.

The researchers suggested that health and safety campaigns that highlight the positive effects of desired behaviors could have a greater impact.

"We think we're invincible when we're young and any parent will tell you that warnings often go unheeded," study senior author Dr. Tali Sharot said in the news release. "Our findings show that if you want to get young people to better learn about the risks associated with their choices, you might want to focus on the benefits that a positive change would bring rather than hounding them with horror stories."

The study was funded by Wellcome Trust and the Royal Society.

"It's important that we understand how young people interpret risk to make lifestyle choices that will impact their future health if we are to stem the rise in preventable diseases," Dr. John Williams, head of neuroscience and mental health at the Wellcome Trust, said in the news release.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers tips for a healthy life.

SOURCE: Wellcome Trust, news release, Sept. 9, 2013

 
Today's Interactive Tools
Related Items

The third-party content provided in the Health Library of phoebeputney.com is for informational purposes only and is not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your physician. If you or your child has or suspect you may have a health problem, please consult your primary care physician. If you or your child may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 or other emergency health care provider immediately in the United States or the appropriate health agency of your country. For more information regarding site usage, please visit: Privacy Information, Terms of Use or Disclaimer.

Follow us online:

© 2014 Phoebe Putney Health System  |  417 Third Avenue, Albany, Georgia 31701  |  Telephone 877.312.1167

Phoebe Putney Health System is a network of hospitals, family medicine clinics, rehab facilities, auxiliary services, and medical education training facilities. Founded in 1911,
Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital (the flagship hospital) is one of Georgia's largest comprehensive regional medical centers. From the beginning, Phoebe's mission and vision
has been to bring the finest medical talent and technology to the citizens of Southwest Georgia, and to serve all citizens of the community regardless of ability to pay.