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Health SA Gesondheid (Online)

versión On-line ISSN 2071-9736
versión impresa ISSN 1025-9848

Health SA Gesondheid (Online) vol.14 no.1 Cape Town  2009

 

ORIGINAL RESEARCH

 

A qualitative investigation of south african cigarette smokers' perceptions of fear appeal messages in anti-smoking advertising

 

 

Ingrid Lynch; Lauren M. de Bruin; Nafisa Cassimjee; Claire Wagner

Department of Psychology, University of Pretoria, South Africa

Correspondence

 

 


ABSTRACT

Cigarette smoking continues to pose a global health risk, including in developing countries. Fear appeal messages have been widely employed in health communication to reduce cigarette smoking, but studies provide conflicting results on their efficacy. The present qualitative study explores smokers' perceptions of fear appeal messages used in anti-smoking advertising. Focus group discussions were conducted with male and female smokers from Gauteng. A thematic analysis found that participants negatively viewed advertisements that use unrealistic images and failed to relate to the message portrayed. Information about the risks associated with smoking was perceived as patronising and as positioning smokers as ignorant and unintelligent. In addition, fear appeal messages that only focus on long-term consequences of smoking were perceived as ineffective. Participants failed to identify with content that solely relied on factual information at the expense of an emotive appeal. The findings suggest that anti-smoking communication could benefit from content that evokes shock without sacrificing realism, that it should include information about shortterm and immediately visible consequences of smoking and that it should avoid negative depictions of smokers that alienate them from the message being portrayed.

Keywords: fear appeal; perceptions of health risk; health communication; smoking; qualitative analysis


OPSOMMING

Sigaretrook dra steeds 'n wêreldwye gesondheidsrisiko, met inbegrip van in ontwikkelende lande. Vrees-oproepende boodskappe word algemeen in gesondheidskommunikasie gebruik om rookgedrag te verminder, maar studies toon teenstrydige resultate rakende die doeltreffendheid daarvan. Die huidige kwalitatiewe studie ondersoek rokers se persepsies van vrees-oproepende boodskappe soos in antirook-advertensies gebruik. Fokusgroepbesprekings is met manlike en vroulike rokers in Gauteng gehou. 'n Tematiese ontleding het gevind dat deelnemers advertensies wat onrealistiese beelde gebruik, negatief beskou en dat hulle nie met die boodskap identifiseer nie. Inligting oor die risiko's geassosieer met rook is as neerbuigend gesien en dat dit rokers as onkundig en onintelligent voorstel. Verder is gevind dat vrees-oproepende boodskappe wat slegs op langtermyngevolge van rook fokus ondoeltreffend beskou word. Deelnemers het nie met inhoud geïdentifiseer wat slegs op feitlike inligting steun ten koste van 'n emotiewe beroep nie. Die bevindinge stel voor dat antirook-kommunikasie uit inhoud kan baat wat skok uitlok, sonder om realisme prys te gee. Inhoud moet oor inligting van korttermyn- en onmiddellik sigbare gevolge van rook beskik en negatiewe uitbeeldings wat rokers van die boodskap distansieer, moet vermy word.


 

 

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Correspondence:
Ingrid Lynch
Department of Psychology
University of Pretoria
Lynwood Road
Hatfield, 0002
South Africa
E-mail: ingrid.lynch@up.ac.za

Received: 02 Sep. 2008
Accepted: 27 Nov. 2008
Published: 02 June 2009

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