Using a narrative to spark safer sex communication

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    Objective: College students are a group at risk for contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs). While they are generally well informed about STIs, they do not consistently use condoms. An important element in
    preventing STIs is safer sex communication, especially with a sexual partner. This may be difficult, however, because of a lack of experience in talking about safer sex or because of the absence of suitable role models.
    In this study, a narrative intervention was tested that was developed to provide receivers with a social script for safer sex communication.
    Design: An experiment was conducted among college students (N=225) who were exposed to either a narrative intervention or a non-narrative (brochure) intervention, followed by a post-test questionnaire. In the narrative condition, part of the participants completed a pre-test questionnaire before being exposed to the intervention.
    Results: Compared to pre-test scores, the narrative positively influenced safer sex communication intentions. The results show no significant differences between post-test scores of the narrative and the nonnarrative condition. Mediation analyses showed that narrative processes (identification and transportation) were positively related to safer sex communication.
    Conclusion: In this study, we investigated both the effects of a narrative intervention on safer sex communication intentions, and the mechanisms of narrative processing underlying these effects. The narrative turned out to be as effective as a brochure version with the same information. Our mediation
    analyses suggest that narratives can be made more persuasive by increasing the reader’s involvement with the story as a whole, and with one of the characters in particular.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)635-647
    Number of pages13
    JournalHealth Education Journal
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 1-Oct-2017

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