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Testing verbal quantifiers for social norms messages in cancer screening: evidence from an online experiment

Stoffel, ST; Goodwin, M; Sieverding, M; Vlaev, I; von Wagner, C; (2019) Testing verbal quantifiers for social norms messages in cancer screening: evidence from an online experiment. BMC Public Health , 19 , Article 658. 10.1186/s12889-019-6997-5. Green open access

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Studies have shown that presenting correct information about group norms to correct misperceptions of norms can influence health behaviours. In two online studies we investigated how different ways of communicating the current uptake of 43% of the English Bowel Scope Screening (BSS) programme affects intention among disinclined men and women. METHODS: In the first study, 202 participants were asked to interpret eight quantifiers for 43% uptake ('few', 'many', 'a considerable number', 'a large number', 'a great number', 'a lot', 'numerous' and 'nearly half') and to indicate how misleading they perceived each of them to be. In the second study, with 1245 participants, we compared the motivational impact of two quantifiers ('a large number' and 'nearly half' which were associated with the highest perceived uptake (48.9%) and considered least misleading in study 1 respectively) with a control message that did not contain any information on uptake, and a message which communicated actual uptake as a proportion (43%). RESULTS: While we found that both verbal quantifiers increased screening intentions compared with the control group (from 7.8 to 12.5%, aOR 1.72; 95%CI 1.00-2.96 in the case of 'a large number' and 14.3%, aOR 2.02; 95%CI 1.20-3.38 for 'nearly half'), simply communicating that 43% do the test, however, had no impact on intentions (9.9% vs. 7.8% aOR 1.25; 95%CI 0.73-2.16). CONCLUSION: Verbal quantifiers can be used to improve the perception of low uptake figures and avoid a demotivating effect.

Type: Article
Title: Testing verbal quantifiers for social norms messages in cancer screening: evidence from an online experiment
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1186/s12889-019-6997-5
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-019-6997-5
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author(s) 2019. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
Keywords: Cancer screening, Decision making, Nudge, Online experiment, Quantifiers, Social norms
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health > Behavioural Science and Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health > Epidemiology and Public Health
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10075548
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