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Auditory information and its parameters in health persuasion

13 November 2015

While searching for ways to adopt a healthy lifestyle, fruit and vegetables cannot be ignored. Consuming sufficient fruit and vegetables has positive health effects and plays a role in the prevention of cancer. Therefore, it is important to investigate how people can be stimulated to take up this behavior. There are new possibilities to present health information; for instance, we can listen to persuasive health information via an Audiobook or interactive smartphone app. This dissertation firstly describes the conditions under which this auditory health information can be effective: for whom is it effective, how does the information need to be formulated? In addition, this research addresses the efficacy of auditory information as presented via a smartphone app. Although there are ten thousands of health apps, the efficacy of such apps has never been tested according to the most strict scientific standard: a randomized field experiment.

The first studies show that it is important how the information is communicated: Aspects of the auditory message, such as intonation and background music, influence the process of health behavior change. In addition, aspects of the listener play a role as well, such as his or her personal involvement. The randomized field experiment showed that after six months of using the interactive fruit and vegetable smartphone app with auditory information and feedback, respondents consumed significantly more fruit. The results were less clear for vegetable consumption. With the gained knowledge in this dissertation, effective smartphone apps can now be created and new research questions and challenges  are stimulated in health promotion research.

We found that auditory health persuasion is not always and for everyone beneficial. Different conditions have been identified under which this information can be effective. These aspects are both referring to the auditory health message (such as the intonation or background music) and the recipient (such as the personal involvement). Moreover, the main study, a randomized field experiment, showed that auditory health information and feedback on the own fruit and vegetable intake leads to a significantly higher fruit intake after six months.

Last modified:13 November 2015 09.55 a.m.
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