The unintended impact of smoking-risk information on concerns about radon: A randomized controlled trial.

Objective: Health communications are often viewed by people with varying levels of risk. This project examined, in the context of radon risk messages, whether information relevant to high-risk individuals can have an unintended influence on lower-risk individuals. Two studies assessed whether information about lung cancer risk from smoking reduced concerns about lung cancer risk from radon among nonsmokers. Method: American nonsmokers viewed radon messages that varied in what they communicated about smoking’s effect on lung cancer risk. Study 1 used a 4-arm factorial, randomized, controlled design in which smoking information was included or excluded from messages assembled from 2 existing radon pamphlets. Study 2 used a 3-arm parallel, randomized, controlled design in which a new radon message excluded smoking information, described smoking as a lung cancer risk, or also described smoking’s synergistic effect with radon. Results: In Study 1, the inclusion of smoking information reduced nonsmokers’ (n = 462) concern-related reactions to possible radon exposure. In Study 2, nonsmokers’ (n = 583) concern-related reactions were reduced in both smoking-information conditions; intentions to test their home for radon and perceived importance of testing were reduced in the synergistic condition. Conclusion: People reading health-risk information contextualize their risk relative to the risk of others. For people at midlevel risk, concern and related reactions prompted by a health message may be dampened when the message includes information about others who are more at risk. In the case of radon and smoking risks, the inclusion of smoking information can reduce the impact that radon messages have on nonsmokers. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)