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SRNT Update 2: The Power of Communications


During the first Paper Sessions at the SRNT conference, there were a few things that stuck with me.  Here’s a quick rundown

Culture and Communications…

Back in Hawaii there is a small movement to stop segregating data by ethnicity.  You see, in Hawaii it’s hard to find someone who’s just one thing, usually most people are mixed with something.  So where do you classify them?  In the Japanese, in the Native Hawaiian, or the White column?  Usually they classify themselves, but the problem is still if we’re presenting data for a specific ethnicity what we really are presenting is people have at least that one ethnicity.  In any case, Dr. Monica Webb from the University of Miami had a good presentation on the power of culturally specific versus standard health education messages and materials.  In her randomized study, they placed African-Americans into two categories: one who received messages and materials specifically tailored to African-American and another who received standard materials.  The results showed that those in the culturally tailored intervention showed a higher readiness to quit, had more knowledge about tobacco overall, and had higher perceptions that African-Americans are at greater risk for tobacco use.  This is important, because it shows that culturally relevant materials do work.  However, in the issue of Hawaii, or for millions of highly acculturated immigrants, which culture do you target them through?

Speaking of culture and tobacco, the Dept. of Health in New Zealand presented on the difference between using text-based warning messages on packs versus using graphic messages.  What they found was that Maori people were most impacted by the graphic messages.

The Color Scheme

Dr. Maansi Bansal-Travers from the Roswell Park Cancer Institute presented a fascinating look into how important color is to cigarette packs.  In her study, they recruited smokers via Craigslist *giggle* to assign a description to a box of well-known and not very well know cigarettes.  The description that came with the box, such as “lights” or “ultra mild” were removed.  For the most part, the smokers were able to identify which ones were “light” and such based solely on the color of the packs.  Even more interesting is that the smokers then said that if they were worried about their health or wanted low-tar cigarettes they would probably pick those they identified as “light”.  SOOOO this means that just removing the label of “light” won’t do anything because the colors already convey the message the tobacco makers want to get across.  I wonder what color the cigarette boxes would have to be to incite the feeling of “puke”…add that to the “things that make you go hmmmm…”

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