Socially Mediated Conversations And Health Decisions

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Conversation and other social interactions pattern our waking lives. Research and personal experience tells us that these interactions offer numerous benefits that include social support and our ability to regulate and make sense of our emotions (Burleson & Goldsmith, 1998; Burnard, 2003; Cohen, 2004; Duck, Rutt, Hoy, & Strejc, 1991). Conversation is also consequential for what we believe and how we behave with respect to our personal health behaviors and lifestyle in general (Southwell & Yzer, 2007; van den Putte, Yzer, Southwell, de Bruijn, & Willemsen, 2011). Two streams of research have emerged examining how conversation about health matters for what we believe and how we behave. One strand of research has examined how individuals discuss health messages they receive from the media in such campaign contexts as smoking cessation (Dunlop, Wakefield, & Kashima, 2008b; Hafstad, Aarø, & Langmark, 1996), family planning (Boulay, Storey, & Sood, 2002; Frank et al., 2012; Rutenberg & Watkins, 1997), and drug avoidance (David, Cappella, & Fishbein, 2006). Another strand of research has examined casual, everyday conversations and how these discussions relate to beliefs about the health topics discussed (Ferrara, Kopfman, Hall, Navon, & Septor, 2011; Miller-Day & Kam, 2010). Despite growing interest in these areas of health and conversation, research on post-campaign discussion has been largely observational, and measures of health-related conversation have been simplistic. This dissertation addresses these gaps with two studies. I begin with a review of literature relevant to both studies in Chapter 1. Chapter 2 describes results from a 2-phase study that employs both qualitative and quantitative methods to understand how different types of post-health campaign message conversation shapes intentions to engage in healthy sleep behavior. Chapter 3 describes results from a secondary analysis, using the same dataset as Chapter 2, to explore everyday conversations about sleep and their connections to beliefs about the challenges and benefits of healthy sleep. This dissertation draws on the Integrated Model of Behavioral Prediction (IMBP; Fishbein & Azjen, 2009) to understand connections between campaign generated or everyday conversation and beliefs about the topic of sleep. This dissertation also focuses on sleep among college students as its behavioral context. With ample evidence that sleep is dramatically reduced and more erratic in college (Maas, Robbins, Fortgang, & Driscoll, 2011; Robbins & Niederdeppe, 2014), designing interventions to promote this health protective behavior may do service to promoting health at this important developmental stage. Overall, findings from this dissertation indicate that the valence and topic of sleeprelated conversation, both after media exposure and more generally, are related to beliefs and intentions to engage in healthy sleep behavior. Chapter 2 reveals that positivelyvalenced conversations about a sleep promotion message led to greater intentions to engage in healthy sleep behavior than did negatively-valenced conversations. Chapter 3 reveals that the topic of sleep comes up frequently in everyday discussions and that talking about unhealthy topics may be undesirable for future good health decision-making. In an age where health promotion efforts are increasingly delivered and disseminated in online media environments like Facebook and Twitter, exploring how messages and information are socially-shared holds promise for advancing population health in an increasingly information-rich environment. DEDICATION I wish to dedicate this dissertation to my longtime mentor, colleague, and friend, Dr. Jim Maas for inspiring me to get a doctoral degree and being a tremendous source of support and inspiration on this long road. You have inspired me in more ways than you know, Jim, and I will be forever grateful for challenging me to measure my accomplishment by the magnitude of positive impact on the lives of others. v
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Health; Communication; Conversation
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Niederdeppe,Jeffrey D. H.
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Wansink,Brian C.
Gay,Geraldine K
Byrne,Sahara E.
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Ph. D., Communication
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Doctor of Philosophy
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