Health Communication

The Health Communication area of the Annenberg Public Policy Center addresses public awareness of health policy and health-related behaviors. The Center has sponsored or co-sponsored conferences on the impact of health information media campaigns on public health behavior and on the policy issues related to online consumer health information.

Beyond stereotypes of adolescent risk taking: Placing the adolescent brain in developmental context

Recent neuroscience models of adolescent brain development attribute the morbidity and mortality of this period to structural and functional imbalances between more fully developed limbic regions that subserve reward and emotion as opposed to those that enable cognitive control. We challenge this interpretation of adolescent development by distinguishing risk-taking that peaks during adolescence (sensation seeking and impulsive action) from risk taking that declines monotonically from childhood to adulthood (impulsive choice and other decisions under known risk).

Effects of Pictorial Warning Labels for Cigarettes and Quit-Efficacy on Emotional Responses, Smoking Satisfaction, and Cigarette Consumption

This article presents the results of a clinical trial testing the impact on smoking during and after a 28-day period of naturalistic exposure to pictorial versus text-only warnings. The authors conclude that pictorial warning labels proposed by FDA create unfavorable emotional reactions to smoking that predict reduced cigarette use compared to text alone, with even smokers low in self-efficacy exhibiting some reduction. Predictions that low self-efficacy smokers will respond unfavorably to warnings were not supported.

Counteracting the Influence of Peer Smoking on YouTube

YouTube, a popular online site for user-generated content, is emerging as a powerful source of peer modeling of smoking. Although exposure to adolescent YouTube smokers increased perceived prevalence among some participants, it simultaneously increased beliefs about smoking’s adverse health outcomes and negative attitudes toward smoking, effects that were associated with reductions in injunctive norms of social acceptability. Interventions that communicate the severity and scope of health risks associated with smoking may undercut the descriptive normative effects of peer modeling of smoking on social media sites such as YouTube.