Health Promotion and Interactive
Technology: Do Gender Differences
Matterin Message Design?
Patricia A. Stout
The University of Texas at Austin
University of Florida
Issues surrounding women's healthdemand our attention. The notion of differences in communicating health messages to men and women has received scant attention (Gabbard-Alley, 1995), although asignificant body of literatureaddresses gender differences in persuasion and communication (Meyers-Levy, 1989; MeyersLevy & Sternthal, 1991; Darley & Smith, 1995). Meanwhile, the Internet is one of the major sources of healthinformation. Morespecifically, research ers from the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that respondents of a national survey areas likely to lookforinformation on the Internet as the y are to contact a health professional (Horrigan & Rainie, 2002). Although the re isthe belief that this new technology can help to transform bothpersonal and public health, howinteractive technology can best be used to address health-relatedissues facing individuals is littleunderstood.
Both policymakers and communication research ers are increasingly concerned that a “digitaldivide” mayresult from the evolution of Web-baseddelivery of communication (Peterson Bishop, 2000). However, perhapsamore pressing concern centerson the impact of the addition of“interactivity” into the equation of information processing on message effectiveness. Howdoes interactivityinfluence individuals'processing and the ir subsequent behavior? Furthermore, although the roleofindividual differences, such as gender, in message processing has received some attention in studies using traditional media(Darley & Smith, 1995), how