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J Dent Educ. 2004 May;68(5):569-73.

How to word effective messages about smoking and oral health: emphasize the benefits of quitting.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, Substance Abuse Center CMHC, New Haven, CT 06519, USA.


This project examined whether smokers differentially responded to messages about oral health that emphasized either the benefits of quitting smoking or the risks of continued smoking. Messages concerning oral health and smoking were developed to emphasize the benefits of quitting smoking (gain-framed) or the costs of continued smoking (loss-framed). These messages were embedded in recruitment brochures for smoking cessation trials, which were placed in twenty dental office waiting rooms for a six-month period. The number of brochures taken from the waiting rooms was tracked, as well as calls to inquire about smoking cessation studies. As hypothesized, dental patients were more likely to acquire gain-framed brochures. Out of 271 brochures taken from the dental office waiting rooms, significantly more brochures contained gain-framed messages compared to loss-framed messages (59 percent vs. 41 percent, p<.05). There was an equal number of calls to inquire about smoking cessation studies for each message type. Overall, individuals in dental office waiting rooms were more likely to take brochures about smoking cessation trials that contained gain-framed messages concerning oral health and smoking. Information about oral health and smoking typically emphasizes the dangers of continued smoking. This study found that smokers are more receptive to information that emphasizes the benefits of quitting.

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