Advances in new media have drastically altered health communication (Cassell, Jackson, & Cheuvront, 1998; Abroms, Schaivo, & Lefebvre, 2008), but the effectiveness of eHealth interventions may depend upon platform and hardware access (Bennett & Glasgow, 2009). The current research investigates how display resolution predicts the effectiveness of an immersive, interactive intervention designed to increase condom use among Men who have Sex with Men (MSM); this virtual hookup was designed to replicate real world sexual encounters, during which they received messages modeling safe sex strategies. Participants (N = 268), aged 18-24, reported the frequency of unprotected anal intercourse (UAI) in the 3 months prior to the intervention and in the 3 months following. After controlling for age, education, and city size, regression analyses reveal that screen pixels significantly predicted a reduction in UAI after engaging with the intervention (ß = -2.252, ∆R2 = .126, p < .001); greater resolution resulted in a more effective intervention. Immersion and presence and their role as mediators of persuasion and behavior change will be discussed. Zickuhr & Smith (2012) have demonstrated that increases in mobile devices (e.g., smartphones, laptops) minimize the digital divide, but this increase is accompanied by a decrease in desktop computer use, thus affecting engagement with immersive content. The current research suggests that the psychological effectiveness of immersive technology, including eHealth interventions, depends on the hardware through which it is accessed. Unfortunately, the digital divide may continue to replicate traditional differences in health care despite increased connectivity and increased access.
Corsbie-Massay, C.L., Christensen, J.L., Godoy, C., Miller, L.C., Appleby, P.R., & Read, S.J. (May 2014). Health communication and the digital divide: The role of display resolution on eHealth intervention effectiveness. Presented at International Communication Association Preconference: Digital Divide Research. Seattle, WA.
Accepted at ICA 2014 Digital Divide Preconference. See you in Seattle!