Health messages to promote fruit and vegetable consumption at different stages: a match-mismatch design

Cristina A. Godinho*, Maria João Alvarez, Maria Luísa Lima, Ralf Schwarzer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To examine the effectiveness of matching health messages promoting fruit and vegetable intake to the Health Action Process Approach stages of change. Design: In a randomised controlled trial, 205 undergraduate students (nonintenders n = 123; intenders n = 82) were exposed to one of three health messages, targeted at non-intenders, intenders and controls. Main outcome measures: Three longitudinal assessments of stage, fruit and vegetable intake, and social-cognitive determinants were obtained. Results: Stage-specific effects of the interventions were confirmed. For selfefficacy, a stage by health message crossover interaction emerged, with both non-intenders and intenders in the matched conditions scoring higher in selfefficacy. Furthermore, in line with predictions, non-intenders in the matched condition showed higher risk perception, outcome expectancies, intention, and stage progression immediately after message exposure, and lower levels of action planning and coping planning a week later in the mismatched condition, but for these outcomes no differences across conditions were obtained among intenders. Multiple mediation analyses confirmed the facilitating role of self-efficacy and behavioural intention among non-intenders. Conclusions: Stages should be considered when designing health messages, although more interactive interventions for intenders and extended measurement time frames may be required.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1410-1432
Number of pages23
JournalPsychology and Health
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Fruit and vegetable intake
  • Health message targeting
  • Multiple mediation analyses
  • Randomised controlled trial
  • Stages of change


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