Armed Forces Information Service has approximately 4,000 radio PSAs in
circulation at all times. A
convenience sample of three audiocassette tapes was obtained containing 189
radio PSAs covering a wide range of subjects.
Although this collection of PSAs is not exhaustive and only represents
4.7 percent of the total AFRTS collection, it is felt to be representative of
what is being heard by military families overseas.
the audiocassettes, the three-person coding team determined 51.3 percent of the
PSAs to be health and safety related (n=97).
Because this information was drawn from a convenience sample, it is
impossible to know whether this percentage is generalizable to the entire
Three coders analyzed the manifest content of the 189 PSAs included in
this study, with each coder responsible for one audiocassette, or an average of
63 PSAs each. Because of concerns
about inter-coder reliability, the study did not attempt to measure latent
content of the spots. Each coder
was a member of the Department of Defense Joint Course in Communication at the
University of Oklahoma. The coding
instrument (See Appendix B) was developed jointly by the four members of the
research team. The coders received
two hours of training on the coding instrument and had access to the codebook
(See Appendix C) during the analysis. Inter-coder
reliability, used by most researchers when conducting a content analysis, is the
process of analyzing how two or more coders code the same data while working
independently using the same coding sheet (Kaid & Wadsworth, 1989).
Having all three coders code one of the audiocassettes, or 35 percent of
the PSAs, tested inter-coder reliability. An
inter-coder reliability of .86 was obtained.
of Variables Used in the Analysis
level threat vs. low level threat.
After determining that a PSA was using fear appeal, coders were asked to
determine whether the threat was high level or low level.
A high level threat was defined for the coders as “a direct verbal
threat that suggests physical harm to the listener or his or her family members
and/or contains frightening sound effects or images.”
A low-level threat was defined for the coders as “a threat to society
or career that does not suggest physical harm to the viewer and does not contain
frightening sound effects or images.”
Each PSA determined to be both health and safety related and to use fear
appeal was then coded for the presence or absence of the following five
Severity refers to the seriousness of the threat.
A specific claim that the threat is “serious” would obviously meet
the criteria for severity. A threat
that would cause serious physical harm, such as, but not limited to, death, was
coded as severe (e.g., “Glaucoma is a serious threat.
If untreated, it can cause blindness.”)
Severity was coded as “Yes” or “No,” depending upon the coder’s
judgment as to whether the message included info on the severity of the specific
refers to the ability of a person to effectively perform the action step.
Does the message make it clear that the solution is something the
listener can do? (e.g., “And this
medical procedure is available now, on this base.”) Self-efficacy was also coded as “Yes” or “No.”
Ease of self-efficacy. Coders
were asked to determine whether the PSA indicated that the action step would be
convenient and easy. (e.g., “All
it takes is a quick trip down to your base health clinic for a free, 15-minute
eye exam.”) Once again, ease of
self-efficacy was coded as “Yes” or “No.”