Semester of Graduation

Spring 2019


Master of Mass Communication (MMC)


Manship School of Mass Communication

Document Type



While advertising and persuasion is a widely researched area in mass communication, the impact of health marketing on consumer behavior remains a relatively new arena. The complex health information landscape online is comprised of both public health organizations seeking to improve health behaviors as well as businesses seeking to sell their products or services. It is well documented in the communication literature that the source of information can impact the recipient in a multitude of ways. Digital health literacy is undoubtedly an essential skill for anyone interacting with health information online, spurring the question, do individuals with low and high digital health literacy respond to health advertising in different ways? Thus, the first goal of this study is to understand the impact of the source intent of health information on behavior and behavioral intentions using the Elaboration Likelihood Model as a framework. The second goal of this study is to further understand how digital health literacy moderates the relationship. An online survey experiment with a 2 (source: public health vs. commercial intent) x 2 (content: sleep debt vs. sun exposure) between-subjects posttest design was conducted among college student participants. Results showed that the public health source was more credible than the commercial source. There were also differences depending on health literacy. Participants with lower digital health literacy were more likely to purchase the product, and exhibited higher psychological reactance than their higher digital health literacy peers.

Committee Chair

Meghan Sanders