gms | German Medical Science

22. Jahrestagung des Deutschen Netzwerks Evidenzbasierte Medizin e. V.

Deutsches Netzwerk Evidenzbasierte Medizin e. V.

24. - 26.02.2021, digital

Using Information vs. Emotion to Empower Consumers: The Case of COVID19

Meeting Abstract

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  • Isabell Koinig - Universität Klagenfurt, Institut für Medien- und Kommunikationswissenschaften, Klagenfurt, Österreich

Who cares? – EbM und Transformation im Gesundheitswesen. 22. Jahrestagung des Deutschen Netzwerks Evidenzbasierte Medizin. sine loco [digital], 24.-26.02.2021. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2021. Doc21ebmV-7-05

doi: 10.3205/21ebm037, urn:nbn:de:0183-21ebm0372

Veröffentlicht: 23. Februar 2021

© 2021 Koinig.
Dieser Artikel ist ein Open-Access-Artikel und steht unter den Lizenzbedingungen der Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License (Namensnennung). Lizenz-Angaben siehe



Background/research question: A pandemic is a unique form of health crisis, which requires intensive communicative efforts. In crisis situations, the government becomes a key actor to obtain compliance on part of the affected population. Particularly during health emergencies, information on preventive measures is most valuable [1]. With measures often concerning “disruptive actions”, messages have to be carefully crafted to counteract negative emotions and controversial arguments.

Whether individuals act upon the measures recommended by the government depends on the impact associated with the health risk and their ability to make sense of the information. Governments are, therefore, called upon to tailor their communications to individual requirements and information needs [2]. Hence, message specifics and audience specifics need to receive consideration.

Methods: The aim of this study is twofold: In a first step, the study will look at which message appeal (informative vs. emotional) is not only perceived more favorably by the Austrian population but which appeal ad also leads to a higher degree of message empowerment. In a second step, the impact of message specifics as well as audience specifics in combination with message specifics on message empowerment will be put to the test.

In total, 337 subjects (M=30 yrs.) participated in the structured questionnaire.

Results: The present study was able to demonstrate that when asked to evaluate different appeal messages, the emotional (visual) appeal message was evaluated more favorably than the informative (textual) appeal message. This result corresponds with previous research, which demonstrated that similarity with the testimonial featured in the emotional appeal message can be a useful tool to increase message effectiveness. The perceived relevance of the message and similarity to the source also led to a higher extent of message empowerment. While message empowerment was enhanced by message specifics, the combination of message and audience specifics was found to influence message empowerment to a lesser extent.

Conclusion: For practitioners, this finding is of relevance and underlines the fact that in spite of audience specifics, message empowerment can be elevated when message specifics are considered in the message composition and design process respectively. Hence, government officials are advised to invest in message presentation, especially when the problem or risk addressed in this message affects whole populations.

Competing interests: The study was approved by the Ethics Committee of the University of Klagenfurt. Approval to use the video material was granted by the Austrian Health Ministry.


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