An Examination of Direct and Indirect Effects of Exposure and Attention to Health Media on Intentions to Avoid Unprotected Sun Exposure

Jennette Lovejoy, University of Portland
Daniel Riffe
Travis I. Lovejoy

Health Communication, 2015, Volume 30, Issue 3, 261-270.

© 2015 Taylor & Francis

Linked version is the final published version.


Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States, accounting for more than 2 million diagnoses and more than 9,000 deaths annually.A regional online survey of students enrolled at institutions of higher education (N = 1,251) examined (a) associations between health media use and intentions to avoid unprotected sun exposure and (b) theoretically derived health behavior constructs that may mediate the relationship between media use and individuals’ decisions to avoid unprotected sun exposure. Individuals with greater exposure and attention to health information in television, magazines, and newspapers had higher intentions to avoid unprotected sun exposure. Multiple mediation models indicated that health behavior constructs collectively mediated the relationship between television use and sun-protective behavioral intentions. Both cumulative and specific indirect mediating effects were observed for the relationship between magazine use and sun-protective behavioral intentions. However, the direction of effects was opposite to the hypothesized direction, due primarily to the association of magazine use with less favorable attitudes about sun protection and reduced behavioral control to avoid unprotected sun exposure. This study provides preliminary evidence for the interrelationships among media use, internal psychological states and cognitions, and health behavior decision making. Future studies should further explicate the mediating processes that account for the relationships between media and health behavior.