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

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.

Individualizing Mental Health Responsibilities on Sina Weibo: A Content Analysis of Depression Framing by Media Organizations and Mental Health Institutions.

Abstract: Depression is a major threat to public health in China. Although many social determinants have been recognized as robust predictors of health outcomes, depression is still widely viewed and framed as a personal health issue that the affected individual is primarily responsible for when it comes to causes and solutions. Research shows that individualizing mental health responsibilities is directly related to stigma formation. While cross-cultural theory and prior research suggest the prevalence of contextual and societal attributions in China, the individualization of the Chinese culture in recent decades may alter the pattern of responsibility attributions for depression. How top Chinese media organizations and mental health institutions framed causal and problem-solving responsibilities for depression on Sina Weibo, a popular social networking site, were quantitatively content-analyzed by examining a total of 539 Weibo posts in terms of their featuring of personal and societal causes and solutions for depression. Both media organizations and mental health institutions primarily assigned depression responsibilities to the individual (vs. the society). State-controlled media organizations were more inclined to hold individuals responsible for fixing the problem than market-oriented media organizations. Compared to media organizations, mental health institutions paid less attention to depression causal responsibilities at both individual and societal levels. Findings support a multi-vocal and balanced framing approach that integrates individual- and society-level attributions of causal and problem-solving responsibilities for depression, so as to help alleviate stigmas, identify structural remedies, and enhance efficacy in depression prevention and treatment at individual, community, and population levels.