Applying the construal level theory to improve oral self-care behavior: A pilot study

Silvia Monestel-Umaña, Peter J. Schulz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Aim: The present pilot study assesses the possibility of using messages framed under the construal level theory for improving the intentions of brushing, flossing, and visiting the dentist. The theory states that individuals create mental construals about intangible situations; such construals will be abstract or concrete depending on the perceived distance from that situation. Materials and methods: A longitudinal post-test- only quantitative experiment was conducted with 90 participants randomly allocated into three exper- imental groups, who received information on oral health framed in abstract, abstract with a self-remin- der or concrete terms. Measures of intention, atti- tudes, perceived message cognition value, and past behavior were obtained through an online survey at two different points in time. Results: Contrary to expectations, individuals exposed to the concrete message showed higher intention to brush and to visit the dentist. In general, attitude towards the oral self-care behavior was a good predictor of the intention to perform. Past behavior is a better predictor for intention than message framing and attitudes. Conclusions: The results of this exploratory research might aid the development of future studies aimed at further understanding the use of the construal level theory in the field of oral self-care. When aiming at changing an oral self-care behavior, it is crucial to understand past behavior. Messages framed under this theory could be successful at improving brushing and visiting the dentist intentions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)134-142
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Communication in Healthcare
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© W. S. Maney & Son Ltd 2015.


  • Dental health education
  • Health communication
  • Oral health
  • Oral hygiene
  • Stomatognathic diseases


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