This experimental study tests effects of exposure to video narratives about successful symptom relief with Medical Cannabis(MC) on attitudes, beliefs, and intentions related to recreational cannabis use.
Patient video testimonials were modeled after those found in extant media coverage. Israeli participants (N = 396) recruited through an online survey company were randomly assigned to view a narrative or a non-narrative video containing equivalent information about MC. Video content was further manipulated based on whether the protagonist had a stigmatized disease or not, and whether attribution of responsibility for his disease was internal or external.
Exposure to patient testimonials indirectly increased positive attitudes, beliefs and intentions related to recreational cannabis use through changing attitudes, beliefs and intentions related to MC. Furthermore, exposure to narratives in which the patient was presented as not to blame for contracting his illness (external attribution) was associated with more positive attitudes, beliefs and intentions toward MC, a factor that was significantly associated with more positive attitudes, beliefs and intentions related to recreational cannabis use.
These results suggest that narrative news media coverage of MC may influence public attitudes toward recreational cannabis. Because such media stories continue to be commonplace, it is important to examine potential spillover effects of this coverage on public perceptions of recreational cannabis. Cannabis prevention programs should address the role of media coverage in shaping public opinion and address the distinction between medical and recreational cannabis use.
PMID: 29471226 DOI: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2017.11.028