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Towards an understanding of adult judgments of synergistic health benefits

Towards an understanding of adult judgments of synergistic health benefits
Towards an understanding of adult judgments of synergistic health benefits
Objective: Numerous scientific studies show that certain combinations of dietary and/or lifestyle factors produce health benefits which are greater than the sum of the benefits associated with each factor alone. To address an existing knowledge gap, we assessed the extent to which individuals understand that certain combinations present these ‘synergistic health benefits’.

Design: Health benefit judgments were obtained from lay adults for a range of dietary and/or lifestyle combinations that have been found to present synergistic benefits. Association between these judgments and socio-cognitive characteristics such as numeracy, education and health interest were examined.

Methods: 352 Swiss adults were presented with a description of one of eight synergistically beneficial combinations. Each participant provided a categorical benefit judgment (i.e., sub-additive, additive or synergistic) for the combination and explained the cognitive reasoning underlying their judgment. Participants completed measures of numeracy and health interest.

Results: The proportion of combinations judged to present a synergistic benefit was modest for ‘macro-level’ combinations (e.g., diet and exercise), but low for ‘micro-level’ combinations (e.g., two phytochemicals). Cognitive reasoning data showed that a higher proportion of judgments for micro-level (cf. macro-level) combinations were based on greater subjective epistemic uncertainty. Higher interest in health was associated with a better understanding of synergistic benefits, but numeracy and education level were not.

Conclusions: There is considerable scope to improve the extent to which lay adults understand that specific combination of diet and lifestyle behaviours can synergistically benefit their health. Our results enable us to make informed recommendations for public health interventions.
1359-107X
204-223
Dawson, Ian G.J.
dff1b440-6c83-4354-92b6-04809460b01a
Dohle, Simone
fa7225d8-1dd1-454f-8153-f3da8711191c
Dawson, Ian G.J.
dff1b440-6c83-4354-92b6-04809460b01a
Dohle, Simone
fa7225d8-1dd1-454f-8153-f3da8711191c

Dawson, Ian G.J. and Dohle, Simone (2016) Towards an understanding of adult judgments of synergistic health benefits. British Journal of Health Psychology, 21 (1), 204-223. (doi:10.1111/bjhp.12158).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Objective: Numerous scientific studies show that certain combinations of dietary and/or lifestyle factors produce health benefits which are greater than the sum of the benefits associated with each factor alone. To address an existing knowledge gap, we assessed the extent to which individuals understand that certain combinations present these ‘synergistic health benefits’.

Design: Health benefit judgments were obtained from lay adults for a range of dietary and/or lifestyle combinations that have been found to present synergistic benefits. Association between these judgments and socio-cognitive characteristics such as numeracy, education and health interest were examined.

Methods: 352 Swiss adults were presented with a description of one of eight synergistically beneficial combinations. Each participant provided a categorical benefit judgment (i.e., sub-additive, additive or synergistic) for the combination and explained the cognitive reasoning underlying their judgment. Participants completed measures of numeracy and health interest.

Results: The proportion of combinations judged to present a synergistic benefit was modest for ‘macro-level’ combinations (e.g., diet and exercise), but low for ‘micro-level’ combinations (e.g., two phytochemicals). Cognitive reasoning data showed that a higher proportion of judgments for micro-level (cf. macro-level) combinations were based on greater subjective epistemic uncertainty. Higher interest in health was associated with a better understanding of synergistic benefits, but numeracy and education level were not.

Conclusions: There is considerable scope to improve the extent to which lay adults understand that specific combination of diet and lifestyle behaviours can synergistically benefit their health. Our results enable us to make informed recommendations for public health interventions.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 2015
e-pub ahead of print date: 10 September 2015
Published date: February 2016
Organisations: Southampton Business School

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 380955
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/380955
ISSN: 1359-107X
PURE UUID: d4d3bb05-18ce-48d7-8cb2-53bc2da88ae6
ORCID for Ian G.J. Dawson: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-0555-9682

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Date deposited: 21 Sep 2015 12:43
Last modified: 26 Nov 2019 01:38

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