On the conceptual ambiguity surrounding perceived message effectiveness

Health Commun. 2015;30(2):125-34. doi: 10.1080/10410236.2014.974131.


Health message quality is best understood in terms of a message's ability to effectively produce change in the variables that it was designed to change. The importance of determining a message's effectiveness in producing change prior to implementation is clear: The better a message's potential effectiveness is understood, the better able interventionists are to distinguish effective from ineffective messages before allocating scarce resources to message implementation. For this purpose, research has relied on perceived message effectiveness measures as a proxy of a message's potential effectiveness. Remarkably, however, very little conceptual work has been done on perceived message effectiveness, which renders its measures underinformed and inconsistent across studies. To encourage greater conceptual work on this important construct, we review several threats to the validity of existing measures and consider strategies for improving our understanding of perceived message effectiveness.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Health Communication / methods*
  • Health Services Research*
  • Humans
  • Persuasive Communication*
  • Reproducibility of Results