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Title: The impact of a 'looming vulnerability' manipulation on perceptions of risk, intentions and behaviour among harmful drinkers
Author: Carrington, R.
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2015
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Overview This thesis explores the effectiveness of attempts to increase risk perceptions among at-risk groups. Part one provides a meta-analytic review examining the efficacy of manipulations aimed at increasing risk perceptions among regular alcohol drinkers and smokers. Outcomes from 23 randomly controlled designs were categorised according to manipulation type, and were assessed for their overall effects and methodological quality, separately for the drinking and smoking groups. Results revealed that deliberative manipulations were the most effective at enhancing smokers risk perceptions. Lack of appropriate data precluded any firm conclusions being drawn for alcohol users. Issues with methodology and heterogeneity, as well as directions for future research are discussed. Part two presents an empirical study involving a randomised controlled design investigating the impact of inducing a sense of ‘looming vulnerability’ towards the threat of liver disease among harmful drinkers; using a novel guided imagery approach previously piloted on smokers (McDonald, O’Brien, Farr & Haaga, 2010). The results tentatively suggest that this approach can significantly increase anxiety and, in turn, lead to significantly healthier intentions among harmful drinkers. Larger scale studies are required to add strength to these findings. Methodological limitations and implications for research and practice are discussed. Part three provides a critical appraisal of the empirical study. It includes a discussion of my background interest in this area and critically reflects on three key aspects of the research process: Designing the intervention, measuring outcomes and recruiting participants. A reflection on the main challenges that arose is provided alongside suggestions for future research.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available