, Volume 43, Issue 1, pp 101-116
Date: 13 Oct 2011

Health Message Framing Effects on Attitudes, Intentions, and Behavior: A Meta-analytic Review

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Message framing has been an important focus in health communication research, yet prior meta-analyses found limited support for using framing to increase persuasiveness of health messages.


This meta-analysis distinguished the outcomes used to assess the persuasive impact of framed messages (attitudes, intentions, or behavior).


One hundred eighty-nine effect sizes were identified from 94 peer-reviewed, published studies which compared the persuasive impact of gain- and loss-framed messages.


Gain-framed messages were more likely than loss-framed messages to encourage prevention behaviors (r = 0.083, p = 0.002), particularly for skin cancer prevention, smoking cessation, and physical activity. No effect of framing was found when persuasion was assessed by attitudes/intentions or among studies encouraging detection.


Gain-framed messages appear to be more effective than loss-framed messages in promoting prevention behaviors. Research should examine the contexts in which loss-framed messages are most effective, and the processes that mediate the effects of framing on behavior.

An erratum to this article can be found at http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12160-012-9446-6.