Testing the effectiveness of narrative messages using critical health communication

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Journal of Communication in Healthcare




Background: Latinos suffer from health disparities associated with excessive consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages. This study aimed to test the effectiveness of messaging using critical health communication approaches and delivered by two narrative modalities (video and comic book) with similar content that aims to empower Latinos to advocate for social change and to make individual behavior change related to sugary beverage consumption. Methods: Participants (N = 129 Mexican American women between 18 and 29 years) completed an online survey before and after exposure to an embedded stimulus. Participants were randomly assigned to a stimulus, a narrative message in video or comic book format, both developed using critical health communication approaches that focused on individual harms and social causes of sugary beverage consumption. Results: Paired sample t-test results showed that both narrative messages increased intentions to reduce sugary beverage consumption (Video: P < 0.01; d = 0.43; Comic: P = 0.03; d = 0.28). Both groups also demonstrated significant improvements in sugary beverage-related media literacy (Video: P = 0.01, d = 0.34; Comic: P = 0.05, d = 0.25), public health literacy (Video: P = 0.05, d = 0.24; Comic: P = 0.01, d = 0.32), and empowerment to engage in sugary beverage-related community movements (Video: P = 0.003, d = 0.38; Comic: P = 0.034, d = 0.27). Conclusions: This study provides initial evidence indicating the effectiveness of narrative messages in two modalities using critical health communication for promoting individual behavioral intention and social activation in reducing sugary beverage consumption.


comic book, commercial determinants of health, empowerment, graphic medicine, Message modality, sugar-sweetened beverage


Nutrition, Food Science and Packaging