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Kin-Kit Li, Sheung-Tak Cheng and Helene H. Fung

This study compared message-framing effects on physical activity (PA) across age and gender groups. Participants included 111 younger and 100 older adults (68% were women), randomly assigned to read gain-framed or loss-framed PA messages in promotion pamphlets, and who wore accelerometers for the following 14 days. Using regression analyses controlling for demographic and health factors, we found significant age-by-gender-by-framing interactions predicting self-report (B = −4.39, p = .01) and accelerometer-assessed PA (B = −2.44, p = .02) during the follow-up period. Gain-framed messages were more effective than loss-framed messages in promoting PA behaviors only among older men. We speculated that the age-related positivity effect, as well as the age and gender differences in issue involvement, explained the group differences in framing. In addition, more time availability and higher self-efficacy among older men might have contributed to the results.

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Kin-Kit Li, Lorna Ng, Sheung-Tak Cheng and Helene H. Fung

It has been suggested that gain-framed messages are more effective than loss-framed messages in promoting low-risk health behaviors such as physical activity. Because of a heightened health concern and possible medical complications, older adults with type 2 diabetes (T2D) may consider physical activity to be risky. This study examined whether a reverse message-framing effect would be found among older adults with T2D. The participants included 211 sedentary and older adults with T2D recruited from an outpatient clinic. The participants were randomly assigned to receive either gain-framed or loss-framed messages and wore an accelerometer to monitor their physical activity for 2 weeks. The participants who received loss-framed messages were more physically active than those who received gain-framed messages (β = 0.13, p = .033). This loss-frame advantage might be attributable to the heightened perceived risks among older outpatients with T2D and the temporarily activated prevention-focused orientation in a clinical setting.