The effects of message framing within the stages of change on smoking cessation intentions and behaviors

Health Commun. 2012;27(6):612-22. doi: 10.1080/10410236.2011.619252. Epub 2012 Jan 31.


This study examines two commonly used and accepted theoretical models in health communication-the stages of change and message framing-to determine whether gain- or loss-framed messages are more effective at getting people to intend to quit smoking depending on their current stage of change (precontemplation, contemplation, or preparation). One hundred forty-eight current smokers were exposed to one of four gain- or loss-framed messages that emphasized the benefits of cessation or the costs of smoking. Message believability, message processing, and stage movement were measured to see if any differences existed as a function of the individual's base stage of change and message frame exposure. Overall, results indicated that all participants, regardless of stage and frame, engaged in more central than peripheral message processing. However, those in the precontemplation/loss frame and preparation/gain frame conditions engaged in significantly less cognitive processing than those in all other conditions. Additionally, gain-framed messages were most influential at getting individuals to progress from the contemplation to the preparation stage. Implications and future directions for research are also discussed.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Intention*
  • Male
  • Midwifery
  • Persuasive Communication*
  • Smoking Cessation*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult