Alumni Bridget Kelly & Jeff Niederdeppe and Prof. Hornik published in Journal of Health Communication

Annenberg alumni Bridget J. Kelly, Ph.D., and Jeff Niederdeppe, Ph.D., with Robert C. Hornik, Ph.D., the Wilbur Schramm Professor of Communication and Director of the Center of Excellence in Cancer Communication Research at Annenberg, published an article in the Journal of Health Communication titled “Validating Measures of Scanned Information Exposure in the Context of Cancer Prevention and Screening Behaviors” (Vol. 14, Issue 8, December 2009). Dr. Kelly is with the research institute RTI International in Washington, D.C., and Dr. Niederdeppe is a professor of communication at Cornell University.

Individuals may obtain health information, particularly from the mass media, without engaging in purposeful information searches (called scanning). This study used the Seeking and Scanning Behavior Survey of the General Population (SSBG), a nationally representative survey of adults aged 40-70 years (n = 2,489), to validate measures of scanned information exposure about cancer prevention and screening behaviors. Scanned exposure measures concerning specific behaviors (exercise; fruit and vegetable consumption; dieting; and mammogram, prostate-specific antigen (PSA) text, and colonoscopy screening) have good face validity and are convergent across behaviors (mean correlation across six preventive behaviors = 0.50, sd = 0.09). These measures can be discriminated from measures of general media exposure (mean r = 0.23, sd = 0.02) and seeking exposure for the same behaviors (mean r = 0.25, sd = 0.06). Scanned information exposure was associated with weekly volume of newspaper coverage for two of six behaviors, providing additional evidence of nomological validity. Scanned information exposure at the first round of measurement was associated with identical exposure 1 year later (mean r = .41, sd = .04). Scanned exposure measures also were significantly associated with five of the six preventive behaviors. These results provide evidence that scanned information exposure measures are valid indicators of the construct. Researchers might consider their use to capture scanned media influence on cognitions and behaviors.