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Health Commun. 2018 Dec 28:1-11. doi: 10.1080/10410236.2018.1560581. [Epub ahead of print]

Promoting Oral Health in Appalachia: Effects of Threat Label and Source Accent on Message Acceptance.

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a Department of Communication , University of Kentucky.
b School of Communication, College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts , San Diego State University.


This study examined the effects of threat label (i.e., the name assigned to a health threat) and source accent (i.e., the source's manner of pronunciation) on Appalachian residents' acceptance of oral health promotion messages. Participants (N = 348) listened to an audiotaped oral health promotion message about tooth decay or Mountain Dew Mouth; the message was delivered either in a standard American English or a Southern accent. Compared to the label Mountain Dew Mouth, the label tooth decay elevated perceptions of threat susceptibility, threat severity, and response-efficacy and resulted in higher message acceptance. The effect of threat label on message acceptance was mediated by severity perceptions. Participants attributed more status to the source and agreed more with her message when she spoke in a standard than a Southern accent. The effect of source accent on message acceptance was mediated by status perceptions. These findings suggest that the success of persuasive health messages depends not only on message content (i.e., what is said), but also on how that content is linguistically framed and delivered (i.e., how it is said).

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