Gain versus loss-framed messaging and colorectal cancer screening among African Americans: A preliminary examination of perceived racism and culturally targeted dual messaging

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

British Journal of Health Psychology

Publication Date


Date Added



Objective This preliminary study examined the effect of gain versus loss-framed messaging as well as culturally targeted personal prevention messaging on African Americans' receptivity to colorectal cancer (CRC) screening. This research also examined mechanistic functions of perceived racism in response to message framing. Design and methods Community samples of African Americans (N = 132) and White Americans (N = 50) who were non-compliant with recommended CRC screening completed an online education module about CRC, and were either exposed to a gain-framed or loss-framed message about CRC screening. Half of African Americans were exposed to an additional and culturally targeted self-control message about personal prevention of CRC. Theory of planned behavior measures of attitudes, normative beliefs, perceived behavioural control, and intentions to obtain a CRC screen served as primary outcomes. The effect of messaging on perceived racism was also measured as an outcome. Results Consistent with prior research, White Americans were more receptive to CRC screening when exposed to a loss-framed message. However, African Americans were more receptive when exposed to a gain-framed message. The contrary effect of loss-framed messaging on receptivity to screening among African Americans was mediated by an increase in perceived racism. However, including an additional and culturally targeted prevention message mitigated the adverse effect of a loss-framed message. Conclusion This study identifies an important potential cultural difference in the effect of message framing on illness screening among African Americans, while also suggesting a culturally relevant linking mechanism. This study also suggests the potential for simultaneously presented and culturally targeted messaging to alter the effects of gain and loss-framed messaging on African Americans.






Public Health

Comments/Extra Notes

Additional author: Novak, Julie M.