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Use of entertainment education on TV to deter youth smoking

Institution: University of California, Irvine
Investigator(s): Cornelia Pechmann, Ph.D.
Award Cycle: 2005 (Cycle 14) Grant #: 14RT-0142H Award: $509,320
Subject Area: Public Health, Public Policy, and Economics
Award Type: Research Project Awards
Abstracts

Initial Award Abstract
Entertainment Education is a well established and fast growing strategy of embedding health and/or social messages such as tobacco use prevention messages into entertainment programming, particularly TV shows. The characters and story lines are used not only to entertain but also to educate. Third party collaborators (government or nonprofit groups) typically assist with the educational content. The goals are to improve TV viewers’ knowledge, normative beliefs, intentions, and behaviors. The aims of the proposed research are: (1) To assess the efficacy of Entertainment Education on TV, specifically antismoking depictions in situation comedies, at dissuading adolescents from smoking cigarettes; and to examine whether its efficacy is moderated by (a) the inclusion of negative role models whose smoking yields positive social consequences, (b) an antismoking Epilogue, and/or (c) the past smoking behavior or overall risk status of the viewer; and (2) To investigate if there are any unintended or adverse effects from Entertainment Education.

Entertainment Education is seriously underutilized for tobacco control. Few shows are created each year about smoking, as compared to other health domains such as HIV/AIDs, alcohol and obesity. Further, virtually no research has been published on the efficacy of this approach for tobacco control. By contrast, several studies have been published showing its efficacy in other health domains such as HIV/AIDs. It would be easier for health groups (e.g., CDC, CA Dept. of Health Services) and networks to become strong advocates for TV shows on smoking prevention if the efficacy of such shows were well documented. This research would examine the efficacy of a single TV episode for smoking prevention at deterring youth from smoking, and investigate who potentially benefits--high and/or low risk youth. In addition, the proposed research would be used to create evidence-based guidelines on how to use Entertainment Education on TV more effectively for tobacco use prevention. Entertainment Education advocates (e.g., the CDC) typically create tip sheets and provide advice to writers on how to create effective shows. It would be highly beneficial if the guidelines that they disseminate were research-based, and currently there is little research available. The proposed research would examine two critical, and controversial, issues for which little research is available: Whether a TV show in which the negative role model’s problem behavior (smoking) is shown to yield positive social consequences might have adverse effects among certain segments of adolescent viewers; and whether it is beneficial or harmful to include an Epilogue (PSA) after an Entertainment Education TV show, and if the PSA on its own (free-standing) does any good.

Two studies would be conducted involving 3,670 adolescent participants from 16 regular and 7 continuation high schools in Southern CA. Participants would be 9th and 10th graders from diverse ethic and socioeconomic backgrounds. We would evaluate real Entertainment Education TV shows that were created for tobacco use prevention. By manipulating the TV show content via professional editing, we would examine the effects of specific elements or features. The studies would be conducted in schools but very effort would be made to simulate normal TV viewing.

According to many experts, Entertainment Education is the most critical strategy that should be added to tobacco control efforts in California and elsewhere. It is a very low cost strategy, because virtually all costs are underwritten by the TV networks. Also, adolescents watch about 3 hours of TV a day, and use it as a major source of information. Instead using an overly persuasive format, Entertainment Education relies on a story-telling format which is believed to be more effective and credible. Broadcasters are increasingly interested in using Entertainment Education to provide a public service and to offset criticism about “entertainment degradation” or the glorification of unhealthy behaviors on TV. The proposed research would be a critical first step to ensuring that tobacco control groups in California and elsewhere join other health groups in utilizing Entertainment Education to its full potential.
Publications

Antismoking Advertisements for Youth: An Independent Evaluation of Heath, Counter-industry, and Industry Approaches
Periodical: American Journal of Public Health Index Medicus:
Authors: Pechmann, C and Reibling E.T. ART
Yr: 2006 Vol: 96 Nbr: 5 Abs: Pg: 906-913

What of Convey in Antismoking Ads for Adolescents: The Use of Protection Motivation Theory to Identify Effective Message Themes
Periodical: Journal of Marketing Index Medicus:
Authors: Pechmann, C G. Zhao M.E. Goldberg and E.T. Reibling ART
Yr: 2003 Vol: 67 Nbr: Abs: Pg: 1-18

The Impact of Regulatory Focus on Adolescents Response to Antismoking Advertising Campaigns
Periodical: Journal of Marketing Index Medicus:
Authors: G. Zhao and C. Pechmann ABS
Yr: 2007 Vol: Nbr: Abs: Pg:

Effects of directly competing reference group messages & persuasion knowledge: Implications for Educational placements. (2010 - forthcoming)
Periodical: Journal of Marketing Research Index Medicus:
Authors: Pechmann C, Wang L ART
Yr: 2010 Vol: Nbr: Abs: Pg:

Entertainment education to deter youth smoking
Periodical: TRDRP Bi-Annual Conference Abstract Booklet Index Medicus:
Authors: Pechmann C, Wang L ABS
Yr: 2007 Vol: Nbr: Abs: Pg: