Targeting and tailoring message-framing: the moderating effect of racial identity on receptivity to colorectal cancer screening among African–Americans

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Journal of Behavioral Medicine

Publication Date


Date Added



This study demonstrates the potential of racial identity to moderate how gain and loss-framed messaging, as well as culturally-targeted messaging, can affect receptivity to preventive health screening. African–Americans (N = 132) who were noncompliant with recommended colorectal cancer (CRC) screening completed a measure of racial identity centrality—encompassing the extent to which racial identity is a core component of self-concept—and then participated in an online education module about CRC screening, during which either gain or loss-framed messaging was introduced. Half of African–Americans were also exposed to a culturally-targeted self-help message about preventing CRC. Theory of Planned Behavior measures of attitudes, normative beliefs, perceived behavioral control, and intentions to obtain a CRC screen served as outcomes. Results confirmed that effects of messaging on receptivity to CRC screening depended on racial identity. Among low racial identity African Americans, gain-framed messaging most effectively increased normative beliefs about obtaining CRC screening, whereas among high racial identity African Americans loss-framed messaging was most compelling. However, these effects most strongly emerged when culturally-targeted self-help messaging was included. We discuss implications for health disparities theory and research, including a potential to simultaneously deploy culturally-targeted and tailored messaging based on racial identity.






Public Health