Message formats and their influence on perceived risks of tobacco use: a pilot formative research project in India

Health Educ Res. 2013 Apr;28(2):326-38. doi: 10.1093/her/cys112. Epub 2012 Dec 6.


In India, tobacco kills 900,000 people every year though the burden of tobacco is faced disproportionately in poorer states such as Bihar. Teachers may be a particularly influential group in setting norms around tobacco use in the Indian context. However, tobacco use among teachers remains high and perceptions of tobacco-related health risks are unexplored. To qualitatively explore perceptions about tobacco use among teachers in Bihar and to examine how risk information may be communicated through a variety of message formats, 12 messages on tobacco health risks varying in formats were tested in focus groups with teachers from Bihar. Participants stated that teachers were already aware of tobacco-related health risks. To further increase awareness of these risks, the inclusion of evidence-based facts in messages was recommended. Communicating risk information using negative emotions had a great appeal to teachers and was deemed most effective for increasing risk perception. Messages using narratives of teachers' personal accounts of quitting tobacco were deemed effective for increasing knowledge about the benefits of quitting. To conclude, messages using evidence-based information, possibly with negative emotions, testimonials with role models and those messages emphasizing self-efficacy in the format of narratives appear to appeal to teachers in Bihar.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Education / methods*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • India
  • Pilot Projects
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Efficacy
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Smoking / psychology
  • Smoking Cessation / psychology