Primary Versus Secondary Prevention Messages: College Students' Perceptions of Effectiveness by Marijuana User Status

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Educational Research and Administration


Objective: With medical and recreational marijuana legislation expanding throughout the country, the need to educate high-risk populations is evident. The purpose of this study was to assess college students’ perceptions of health communication messages comparing primary and secondary prevention messages concerning marijuana.

Participants: Participants (n = 487) included college students, ages 18–25, enrolled in a Midwestern University.

Methods: Participants assessed messages based on likeability, creativity, believability, persuasiveness, relevance, and usefulness using an online questionnaire that also included open-end comments.

Results: Rasch analyses indicate that nonmarijuana users rated primary prevention messages higher than secondary prevention messages, whereas marijuana users ranked secondary prevention messages more favorably than primary prevention messages.

Conclusion: Interventions designed to address marijuana use among college students may be more effective if tailored toward user status. Specifically, primary prevention materials should be designed for abstainers, while secondary prevention messages that focus on harm reduction strategies should be used with marijuana users.

Publication Title

Journal of American College Health

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