Purpose: The scenario analysis assignment will reflect students’ ability to apply what they have learned to realistic situations with a variety of constraints. After being assigned to a health-related topic (i.e., scenario), students will submit a 1,000-1,500-word report in which they apply key concepts (list of key concepts is provided below) from weeks 3-7 to a particular scenario. Given the applied nature of this course, this assignment directs students to use their knowledge and critical thinking skills to make decisions, solve problems, and explore challenges. Specific objectives focus on your ability to: (1) understand the different constraints imposed by the scenario and how they reflect on attempts to change health behavior; (2) reinforce the comprehension of course material; (3) illustrate your ability to apply theoretical knowledge to real-world problems; and (4) write up your findings in the form of a brief report that acknowledged the limitations and the opportunities of attempts to change health behavior.


Overview: This assignment includes three parts. In Part I (“Key Concepts”), students will identify 3 key concepts from the course material (weeks 3-7) that are particularly relevant for the assigned health scenario and explain them. In Part II (“Implementation”), students will discuss (using illustrative examples) the ways in which understanding of the chosen key concepts can better inform attempts to change health behavior in their assigned scenario. In Part III (“Discussion”), students will offer a critical discussion regarding the advantages and limitations associated with the key concepts chosen for the health-related scenario. A more detailed explanation of the assignment is provided below.

Step 1: Title Page

  • You must include a title page that includes the following information: (a) title of the course; (b) the title of your assignment; (c) your name; (d) name of your TA; and (e) date of submission.

Step 2: Key Concepts

In this section you should introduce the chosen 3 key concepts.

  • When choosing key concepts, you need to make sure that they fit the assigned health-related scenario. Your choice of a specific key concept should be guided by the topic of your scenario.
  • Example: the key concept, fear appeals, might fit a health campaign that attempts to discourage adolescents from using electronic cigarettes but appear to be less relevant for health topics such as domestic violence. Similarly, gain-framed messages are more likely to exert influence on prevention-related behaviors (e.g., physical activity, vaccination, sunscreen use) and less likely to exert influence on detection-related behaviors (e.g., cancer screening tests).
  • After choosing 3 key concepts, describe each key concept, focusing on its definition, its relevance to health behavior change, and its “best practices”.
  • Remember: This part of the assignment discusses the key concepts in general terms without applying them to the assigned health scenario.
  • Example: the key concept “message sidedness” deals with a distinction between messages that include both supporting and opposing arguments (“two-sided”) and messages that ignore opposing arguments and include only supporting arguments (“one-sided”). Given the fact that many health problems are controversial, and many arguments can be made both in support and in opposition, message sidedness appears to be a highly relevant feature of health communication. In terms of best practices, we know that one-sided messages are more effective for people who already support the message or for people who are unaware of the issue, whereas two-sided arguments are more effective for those with less attractive messages, knowledgeable audiences, and as a way to increase source credibility.

Step 3: Implementation

  • The central question that this section attempts to answer is “how can we use the key concepts in question to design a more effective message, while acknowledging the limitations of the assigned scenario”.
  • The presentation of key concepts should include information about the applicability of the concepts to the relevant health topic.
  • Be sure to clearly define the key concepts. Do NOT simply summarize the key concepts but rather use them to support your choice and justify your predictions.
  • Don’t try to explain everything! It’s better to go deeper in making a novel argument about one aspect of your topic than to offer a laundry list of explanations. The goal is for you to apply and explain one or more aspects of a key concept to a health problem; evaluate them using course readings and the material covered in class.
  • Example: If your assigned scenario deals with breast cancer and high levels of anxiety serve as a potential barrier to compliance with a recommended treatment (e.g., mammogram), humor can be used to as an effective messaging strategy. Keeping in mind the ability of humor to alleviate anxiety and stress while inducing a positive mood, humor appears to be a useful way to address compliance with breast cancer screening. The specific message used to encourage this screening behavior would include related-humor (as opposed to unrelated-humor), using moderate-levels of humor.

Step 4: Discussion

  • The discussion section should answer the following 2 key questions:
  1. What implications does the specific scenario have for the key concepts in question (i.e., strengths and weaknesses)?
  2. What conclusions should we draw from your report about the study of health behavior more generally?


· Gain/loss frames

· Message framing

· Message sidedness

· Message order

· Fluency

· Fear appeals

· Anger appeals

· Disgust appeals

· Joy appeals

· Humor appeals

· Source credibility

· Source liking

· Source similarity

· Health literacy

· Stages of change

· Message tailoring

· Ego-involvement

· Cultural differences

· Community health

· Social networks

· Psychological reactance

· Inoculation

· Self-affirmation

· Edutainment (entertainment + education)



  • You should write this assignment using class notes, presentations, and course readings. There is no need to reference additional sources.
  • The paper should be 1,000 – 1,500 words, typed, double-spaced, 1” margins and reasonable font size (12 pt. fonts, Times New Roman)
  • You should also make sure that your paper is properly checked for spelling and grammatical errors.

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