Open Access Open Badges Research

Evaluation of Sexual Communication Message Strategies

W Douglas Evans1*, Kevin C Davis2, Cindy Umanzor1, Kajal Patel1 and Munziba Khan1

Author Affiliations

1 The George Washington University, School of Public Health and Health Services, Department of Prevention and Community Health, 2175 K Street, NW, Suite 700, Washington, DC, 20037 USA

2 Research Triangle Institute, Social, Statistical and Environmental Sciences, Public Health Economics and Policy Research Program, 3040 East Cornwallis Road, Research Triangle Park, NC, 27709 USA

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Reproductive Health 2011, 8:15  doi:10.1186/1742-4755-8-15

Published: 20 May 2011


Parent-child communication about sex is an important proximal reproductive health outcome. But while campaigns to promote it such as the Parents Speak Up National Campaign (PSUNC) have been effective, little is known about how messages influence parental cognitions and behavior. This study examines which message features explain responses to sexual communication messages.

We content analyzed 4 PSUNC ads to identify specific, measurable message and advertising execution features. We then develop quantitative measures of those features, including message strategies, marketing strategies, and voice and other stylistic features, and merged the resulting data into a dataset drawn from a national media tracking survey of the campaign. Finally, we conducted multivariable logistic regression models to identify relationships between message content and ad reactions/receptivity, and between ad reactions/receptivity and parents' cognitions related to sexual communication included in the campaign's conceptual model.

We found that overall parents were highly receptive to the PSUNC ads. We did not find significant associations between message content and ad reactions/receptivity. However, we found that reactions/receptivity to specific PSUNC ads were associated with increased norms, self-efficacy, short- and long-term expectations about parent-child sexual communication, as theorized in the conceptual model.

This study extends previous research and methods to analyze message content and reactions/receptivity. The results confirm and extend previous PSUNC campaign evaluation and provide further evidence for the conceptual model. Future research should examine additional message content features and the effects of reactions/receptivity.