IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/eee/socmed/v70y2010i9p1441-1449.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Using stories to battle unintentional injuries: Narratives in safety and health communication

Author

Listed:
  • Ricketts, Mitch
  • Shanteau, James
  • McSpadden, Breeanna
  • Fernandez-Medina, Kristen M.

Abstract

After 14 years of rising death rates due to unintentional injuries in the U.S., it is time to ask how safety messages can be redesigned to have a greater impact on risky behavior. To this end, many researchers have called for a new, narrative approach to prevention messages--based on persuasive stories about people who have suffered injuries and illnesses in the past. Still, there is scant evidence that story-based communications are more effective than equivalent non-narrative messages at changing actual (rather than self-reported) safety and health behavior. Our research examined the impact of injury stories on actual safety behavior in a controlled experimental setting at a US university. Teams of participants assembled a product (a child's swing) using written instructions. The instructions contained safety messages targeting assembly mistakes that have been linked to serious injuries in children who play on swings. Participant teams were randomly assigned to three conditions: assembly instructions containing story-based safety messages, instructions with concrete (but non-anecdotal) safety messages, and instructions with traditional abstract safety messages. After adjustment for covariates, story-based messages resulted in a 19 percent improvement in safety behavior, compared with non-narrative communications. Importantly, injury stories did not create undue fear of the message object, demonstrating that brief anecdotes about accident victims can convince people to take reasonable precautions without creating unwarranted alarm about risks.

Suggested Citation

  • Ricketts, Mitch & Shanteau, James & McSpadden, Breeanna & Fernandez-Medina, Kristen M., 2010. "Using stories to battle unintentional injuries: Narratives in safety and health communication," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 70(9), pages 1441-1449, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:70:y:2010:i:9:p:1441-1449
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0277-9536(10)00083-3
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Morrongiello, Barbara A. & Zdzieborski, Daniel & Sandomierski, Megan & Lasenby-Lessard, Jennifer, 2009. "Video messaging: What works to persuade mothers to supervise young children more closely in order to reduce injury risk?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 68(6), pages 1030-1037, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:70:y:2010:i:9:p:1441-1449. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/journaldescription.cws_home/315/description#description .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.