Communicating Health Problems Online: An Investigation of Frame Selection and the Cognitive Effects of Health Disclosures

Weirui Wang


An experiment was conducted to understand how people disclose their health experiences online and the effects of frame selection on behavioral intentions. Participants were asked to respond to a narrative or an informational message in an online discussion of a common health issue. Four original generic frames—the reconstruction, suffering, advice/support, and denial/reactance frames—were used to analyze health disclosures and the subsequent effects. The results revealed that narrative messages encouraged participants to use the advice/support frame more frequently. Those who used the advice/support frame tended to be more frequently involved in the transformation mode and reported greater intentions of engaging in the behavior that might alleviate the health problem. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.


narrative messages, health disclosures, frames, health behaviors

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