Ganna Kostygina

Lynn Miller, Chair
Michael Cody, Stephen Read

Mitigating Chernobyl’s Lingering Threat: What Messages Might Motivate Ukraine’s Radiation-Exposed Youth to Seek Cancer Screening Tests

How health messages are framed in combination with the nature of the risk (detection or prevention of disease) can impact health behavior change. Furthermore, an individual’s chronic motives and cultural values may also interact with these factors to impact the success of health message interventions. Although cultures, as well as individuals, vary in their chronic motives, rarely is research on message framing conducted outside of the United States. This is important for practical reasons (e.g., effectively responding to health threats in other corners of the globe), as well as theoretical reasons (e.g., generalized understanding of motivational/value dynamics that may moderate responses to messages).

The present dissertation examined the potentially interacting effects of cultural value priorities (i.e., value orientations such as security), personality factors (approach and avoidance motivation), and the framing (i.e., gain and loss) of the message on compliance with thyroid cancer screening messages in Ukraine. The impact of value-affirmation prior to exposure to a persuasive message on the perception of cancer risk, self-efficacy, intention, and screening behavior was also analyzed for a sample of 150 Ukrainians at risk of radiation-induced thyroid cancer due to Chernobyl fallout exposure.

Past research in the U.S. suggests that a loss-framed message might be more effective for promoting cancer detection. The pattern of findings found here instead argues that to change health behaviors both individual propensities and the nature of the message framing must be concurrently considered. That is, those individuals in the gain-framed, but not in the loss-framed condition, showed: (a) enhanced intent to get tested when they had both lower levels of avoidance motivational disposition and higher levels of approach disposition or valued security and (b) higher perceived self-efficacy when they valued high stimulation (an approach or gain value). On the other hand, those individuals in the loss-framed condition (compared to the gain-frame condition) showed more positive change in self-efficacy when they had low stimulation values. Additional findings are discussed.