The Prevalence of Theoretical Behavior Change Components in the Top Breast Cancer Websites to Encourage Detection or Prevention Behaviors and to Solicit Donations

Carolyn LaPlante Samantha Munday
Under the direction of Dr. Sandi Smith, Communication; Dr. Pamela Whitten, Telecommunication, Information Studies, and Media

The Internet has become a primary resource for the general public who seek health information about a variety of topics, including breast cancer. This particular research is part of a larger study which evaluated the use of basic design tenets and theoretical behavioral change components in the top 157 breast cancer websites. Fourteen components were taken from three behavioral change theories. The focus of this particular project was to assess the use of these 14 theoretical components on breast cancer websites as they persuade users towards prevention or detection behaviors. It will also discuss how some of these components were additionally used to persuade users to contribute money to the organizations that sponsor the websites. It should first be noted that overall, theoretical components were absent from the websites in general. Nine out of the 14 components were found to be used primarily for detection, as opposed to prevention. This is an important finding because it is just as valuable, if not more so, for a person to prevent a disease as it is to detect it early. Four of the 14 were considered when assessing persuasion in terms of fundraising. Of these four that were assessed, three were used more than 50% of the time when soliciting money. These results lend ideas for future research on such topics as well as ideas to better the current state of the top breast cancer websites.