Uncovering layers in health risk communication: The roles of risk tolerance, message fatigue, and trust

Accepted for presentation at the virtual Annual ICA Conference, May 27-31, 2021.

Abstract: One of the understudied topics in risk communication is why individuals do not follow or are resistant to recommended behaviors that optimize personal health outcomes. To understand the dimensionality of these responses, this study investigates barriers for persuasion (i.e., risk tolerance and message fatigue) and trust in government. An online survey using a representative adult sample (n = 510) in Australia was conducted. Key findings include: 1) Greater trust in government lowers the level of risk tolerance; 2) Lowered risk tolerance mediates between greater trust in government and behavioral intention to be more risk preventive; 3) Lowered risk tolerance mediates between greater trust in government and risk preventive information seeking; 4) Greater trust decreases health risk message fatigue; and 5) Lower level of health risk message fatigue mediates between greater trust in government and risk preventive behavioral intention. Implications and future directions for health risk communication theory and practice are discussed.

Yan Jin  Youngji Seo 

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