The impact of brief messages on HSV-2 screening uptake among female defendants in a court setting: A randomized controlled trial utilizing prospect theory

Alexis M. Roth, Barbara Van Der Pol, J. Dennis Fortenberry, Brian Dodge, Michael Reece, David Certo, Gregory D. Zimet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


Epidemiologic data demonstrate that women involved with the criminal justice system in the United States are at high risk for sexually transmitted infections, including herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). Female defendants were recruited from a misdemeanor court to assess whether brief framed messages utilizing prospect theory could encourage testing for HSV-2. Participants were randomly assigned to a message condition (gain, loss, or control), completed an interviewer-administered survey assessing factors associated with antibody test uptake/refusal and were offered free point-of-care HSV-2 serologic testing. Although individuals in the loss-frame group accepted testing at the highest rate, an overall statistical difference in HSV-2 testing behavior by group (p ≤.43) was not detected. The majority of the sample (74.6%) characterized receiving a serological test for HSV-2 as health affirming. However, this did not moderate the effect of the intervention nor was it significantly associated with test acceptance (p ≤.82). Although the effects of message framing are subtle, the findings have important theoretical implications given the participants' characterization of HSV-2 screening as health affirming despite being a detection behavior. Implications of study results for health care providers interested in brief, low cost interventions are also explored.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)230-236
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Health Communication
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Communication
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Library and Information Sciences

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