Cognitive and Affective Responses to Mass-media Based Genetic Risk Information in a Socio-demographically Diverse Sample of Smokers

Erika A. Waters, Nicole Ackerman, Courtney S. Wheeler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Many individuals receive information about genomics from the mass media. When media reports are about conditions that are considered behavioral, such as smoking, they may negatively affect some health-promoting cognitions. We examined how informing adult smokers about the genetic basis for nicotine addiction influenced smoking-related health cognitions and affect and whether responses varied by socio-demographics or genetics beliefs. We recruited 392 smokers (Mage = 44.5, 52.8% African American, 51.3% no college experience, 66.2% women) from public locations in a mid-sized Midwestern city. They were randomly assigned to read a news article describing either a pharmacy’s decision to stop selling tobacco (n = 78) or the discovery of a gene associated with increased risk of nicotine addiction and lung cancer (n = 314). Participants also completed a survey assessing socio-demographics, health cognitions (quit intentions, self-efficacy, response efficacy, perceived risk), affect (worry, anticipated regret), genetic determinism, and other genetics beliefs. ANOVAs revealed no statistically significant main effects of genetic information on any health cognitions or affects. Linear regressions revealed that socio-demographics and genetics beliefs moderated very few effects. This suggests that concerns that mass media-based dissemination of genetic discoveries may have detrimental effects on smoking-related cognitions and affects are likely unwarranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)700-710
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Health Communication
Volume24
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2 2019

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