The Use of Regional Accent in Audio Health Communications
Cancer is a large and complex family of diseases with a variety of causes and risk factors. The health communication strategy needed to combat cancer may also need to be a large and complex family of communications. Podcasts are an easily made, readily accessible form of audio communication. However, little research has been done about the use of podcasts for health communications. Drawing on the body of literature that supports the efficacy of tailored and targeted health communications, this project looks at the use of audio cancer prevention communications tailored with three regional accents, the American Midwestern accent, the Southern Texan accent, or the Tejano (Texan Mexican American) accent, focusing on a cancer prevention message in two cohorts, Americans (excluding Texans) and Texans. After listening to any of the three audio communications, both cohorts had a strong comprehension of the message and intended to exercise more. The American population reported liking the Southern-accented narrator less and viewing the message as less valid compared to the other narrators, but this did not impact either comprehension or intention to exercise. The Texan population had no significant difference in response to any of the three accents. However, in both the Texan and American population, there was a difference in the response to accents between men and women. Additionally, Americans who had been affected by cancer rated the only Midwestern-accented message higher in validity than those who hadn’t been affected, while Texans who had been affected by cancer rated only the Southern-accented message as higher in validity than those who hadn’t. This study found that audio health messages were well comprehended by listeners regardless of regional accent. It also found that regional accent may interact with other axes of identification, such as gender or association with disease, to create a significant increase in perception of validity of the health communication. Given the increasing popularity of podcasts and the need for health communications targeted towards specific populations, this study is an important addition to the health communications field, with implications for future research.
Advisor: Longnecker, Nancy
Degree Name: Master of Science Communication
Degree Discipline: Centre for Science Communication
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: science communication; health communication; podcasts; audio communication; regional accents; accents; public health; cancer prevention
Research Type: Thesis