How effective is a short CSM-based online intervention on intended flu prevention behaviour?
AbstractBackground: Influenza is a serious infectious disease that can be prevented by active behaviours (e.g., handwashing), avoidant behaviours (e.g., no handshaking), and getting a flu shot. Based on the assumptions of the Common Sense Model of self-regulation, an online intervention targeting illness representations about influenza (i.e., emotional representations, coherence, consequences, and prevention control) was designed to increase the intention to conduct preventive behaviours. It was hypothesized that positive effects of the intervention on preventive behaviours would result from changes in illness perceptions. Method: This online study had a randomized pre- posttest control group design; 416 participants (72% female, mean age 37 years) took part. Before and after the intervention, illness perceptions about influenza and the intention to conduct preventive behaviours were measured. Data were analysed by 2x2 ANOVAs and mediation analyses. Findings: The ANOVAs showed that the intervention increased the perception of negative consequences and prevention control (but not emotional representations and coherence) as well as the intention to conduct preventive behaviours. Mediation analyses revealed that the increase in perceived consequences and/or prevention control partially mediated the effect of the intervention on the increase of the intention for active (indirect effects: .03*, .10*) and avoidant preventive behaviour (indirect effects: .01ns, .05*), but not for getting a flu shot (indirect effects: .02ns, .04ns). Discussion: The intervention proved to be successful in changing illness perceptions and increasing the intention to conduct preventive behaviours. The findings provide evidence for the usefulness of the CSM in the context of disease prevention and health promotion.