Repeated exposure to media messages encouraging parent-child communication about sex: Differential trajectories for mothers and fathers
Purpose. To examine changes in parent-child communication related to sexual behavior after exposure to public health messages.
Design. Randomized, controlled trial that was part of precampaign message testing.
Setting. Exposure occurred online or through DVDs mailed to participants and viewed on their personal computers. Data collection occurred via a secure Web site.
Patients. Participants included parents (n ?=? 1969) living with a child age 10 to 14 years drawn from a nationally representative sample of U.S. households.
Intervention. Treatment participants were exposed to video, audio, and print advertisements that promoted the benefits of speaking to their children early and often about delaying initiation of sexual activity; messages also directed parents to an informational Web site.
Measures. The dependent variable assessed frequency of parent-child communication related to sexual behavior. The primary independent variable was treatment assignment.
Analysis. Longitudinal growth modeling that included five waves of data.
Results. The trajectory of growth over time differed between fathers in the treatment group and fathers in the control group (F[1, 2357] ?=? 4.15; p < .042), indicating more frequent communication among treatment fathers than among control fathers. Trajectories did not differ between mothers in treatment and control groups.
Conclusion. This study demonstrates that father-child and mother-child communication patterns differ over time in response to public health messages. Findings have implication for researchers developing health marketing campaigns.