Understanding the Effects of Printed Health Education Materials: Which Features Lead to Which Outcomes

Fiona Bull, C.L. Holt, M.W. Kreuter, E.M. Clark, D. Scharff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Citations (Scopus)


Printed health education materials (HEMs) are widely used to increase awareness and knowledge, change attitudes and beliefs, and help individuals adopt and maintain healthy lifestyle behaviors. While much of the contemporary research and development of persuasive communication is based on McGuire's input/output model, to date few studies have compared the impact of a large set of inputs across a comprehensive set of the 12 outputs. We examined the effects of printed HEMs on weight loss on the cognitive, affective, and behavioral responses of 198 overweight adults. Participants were recruited via a newspaper advertisement and were randomly assigned to review one of three HEMs. Participants were interviewed and asked to complete a series of questionnaires both before and after viewing the HEMs. Regression analyses were conducted to identify the input characteristics associated with success at each of the output steps. The results revealed attractiveness, encouragement, level of information, and application to one's life were significantly associated with early steps (attention, liking, and understanding) as well as some of the mediating steps (recalling, keeping, and rereading HEMs). Later steps, such as intention to change behavior and show others, were associated with readiness to change, self-efficacy, and perceived application to one's life. Behavior change was more likely for those who received tailored materials and those who had higher self-efficacy. These results provide useful direction for the use of computers in tailoring the content of HEMs and the development of effective communication of health information on weight loss.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-279
JournalJournal of Health Communication
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2001


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