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Communicating risks and benefits from fish consumption: impact on Belgian consumers’ perception and intention to eat fish

Wim Verbeke (UGent) , Filiep Vanhonacker (UGent) , Lynn J. Frewer, Isabelle Sioen (UGent) , Stefaan De Henauw (UGent) and John Van Camp (UGent)
(2008) Risk Analysis. 28(4). p.951-967
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Abstract
Communicating about the health effects of fish and seafood may potentially result in a conflict situation: increasing intake is desirable because of health and nutritional benefits, but higher consumption may also lead to an increased intake of potentially harmful environmental contaminants. In order to anticipate the communication challenge this conflict may pose, the research presented here aimed to assess the impact of risk/benefit communication on Belgian consumers' fish consumption behavior and fish attribute perception. Data were collected in June 2005 from a sample of 381 women, aged between 20 and 50 years. An experimental design consisting of four message conditions (benefit-only; risk-only; benefit-risk; and risk-benefit) combined with three information sources (fish and food industry; consumer organization; government) was used. Exposure to the benefit-only message resulted in an increase from a self-reported fish consumption frequency of 4.2 times per month to an intended fish consumption frequency of 5.1 times per month (+21%), while fish attribute perceptions only marginally improved. The risk-only message resulted in a strong negative perceptual change in the range of two points on a seven-point scale. This translated into an 8% decrease of behavioral intention (from eating fish 4.5 times per month to an intention of eating fish 4.1 times per month). Balanced messages referring to both risks and benefits yielded no significant change in behavioral intention, despite a significant worsening of fish attribute perception. The presentation order of benefits and risks in the balanced message showed a tendency to affect both behavioral intention and attribute perception, with the first message component being most influential. Information source did not yield any significant impact either on behavioral intention or on attribute perceptions, independent of the message content. The results from this study provide valuable insights for future risk/benefit and balanced communication about seafood.
Keywords
HEALTH-RISK, QUANTITATIVE-ANALYSIS, CHEMICAL CONTAMINANTS, CARDIOVASCULAR-DISEASE, seafood, SPORT-CAUGHT FISH, safety, risk, perception, health, consumer, fish, behavioral intention, PUBLIC-PARTICIPATION, communication, SOCIAL TRUST, DIETARY-INTAKE, FATTY-ACIDS, FOOD RISKS

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Citation

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MLA
Verbeke, Wim, Filiep Vanhonacker, Lynn J. Frewer, et al. “Communicating Risks and Benefits from Fish Consumption: Impact on Belgian Consumers’ Perception and Intention to Eat Fish.” Risk Analysis 28.4 (2008): 951–967. Print.
APA
Verbeke, Wim, Vanhonacker, F., Frewer, L. J., Sioen, I., De Henauw, S., & Van Camp, J. (2008). Communicating risks and benefits from fish consumption: impact on Belgian consumers’ perception and intention to eat fish. Risk Analysis, 28(4), 951–967.
Chicago author-date
Verbeke, Wim, Filiep Vanhonacker, Lynn J. Frewer, Isabelle Sioen, Stefaan De Henauw, and John Van Camp. 2008. “Communicating Risks and Benefits from Fish Consumption: Impact on Belgian Consumers’ Perception and Intention to Eat Fish.” Risk Analysis 28 (4): 951–967.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Verbeke, Wim, Filiep Vanhonacker, Lynn J. Frewer, Isabelle Sioen, Stefaan De Henauw, and John Van Camp. 2008. “Communicating Risks and Benefits from Fish Consumption: Impact on Belgian Consumers’ Perception and Intention to Eat Fish.” Risk Analysis 28 (4): 951–967.
Vancouver
1.
Verbeke W, Vanhonacker F, Frewer LJ, Sioen I, De Henauw S, Van Camp J. Communicating risks and benefits from fish consumption: impact on Belgian consumers’ perception and intention to eat fish. Risk Analysis. OXFORD, UK: BLACKWELL PUBLISHING; 2008;28(4):951–67.
IEEE
[1]
W. Verbeke, F. Vanhonacker, L. J. Frewer, I. Sioen, S. De Henauw, and J. Van Camp, “Communicating risks and benefits from fish consumption: impact on Belgian consumers’ perception and intention to eat fish,” Risk Analysis, vol. 28, no. 4, pp. 951–967, 2008.
@article{497497,
  abstract     = {Communicating about the health effects of fish and seafood may potentially result in a conflict situation: increasing intake is desirable because of health and nutritional benefits, but higher consumption may also lead to an increased intake of potentially harmful environmental contaminants. In order to anticipate the communication challenge this conflict may pose, the research presented here aimed to assess the impact of risk/benefit communication on Belgian consumers' fish consumption behavior and fish attribute perception. Data were collected in June 2005 from a sample of 381 women, aged between 20 and 50 years. An experimental design consisting of four message conditions (benefit-only; risk-only; benefit-risk; and risk-benefit) combined with three information sources (fish and food industry; consumer organization; government) was used. Exposure to the benefit-only message resulted in an increase from a self-reported fish consumption frequency of 4.2 times per month to an intended fish consumption frequency of 5.1 times per month (+21%), while fish attribute perceptions only marginally improved. The risk-only message resulted in a strong negative perceptual change in the range of two points on a seven-point scale. This translated into an 8% decrease of behavioral intention (from eating fish 4.5 times per month to an intention of eating fish 4.1 times per month). Balanced messages referring to both risks and benefits yielded no significant change in behavioral intention, despite a significant worsening of fish attribute perception. The presentation order of benefits and risks in the balanced message showed a tendency to affect both behavioral intention and attribute perception, with the first message component being most influential. Information source did not yield any significant impact either on behavioral intention or on attribute perceptions, independent of the message content. The results from this study provide valuable insights for future risk/benefit and balanced communication about seafood.},
  author       = {Verbeke, Wim and Vanhonacker, Filiep and Frewer, Lynn J. and Sioen, Isabelle and De Henauw, Stefaan and Van Camp, John},
  issn         = {0272-4332},
  journal      = {Risk Analysis},
  keywords     = {HEALTH-RISK,QUANTITATIVE-ANALYSIS,CHEMICAL CONTAMINANTS,CARDIOVASCULAR-DISEASE,seafood,SPORT-CAUGHT FISH,safety,risk,perception,health,consumer,fish,behavioral intention,PUBLIC-PARTICIPATION,communication,SOCIAL TRUST,DIETARY-INTAKE,FATTY-ACIDS,FOOD RISKS},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {4},
  pages        = {951--967},
  publisher    = {BLACKWELL PUBLISHING},
  title        = {Communicating risks and benefits from fish consumption: impact on Belgian consumers’ perception and intention to eat fish},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1539-6924.2008.01075.x},
  volume       = {28},
  year         = {2008},
}

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