Explaining Intentions to Seek Help for Depressive Symptoms in the Context of Responsibility Message Framing
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U.S. college students are disproportionally affected by depression but typically do not seek help. To advance understanding of the role of health messages in shaping college students' help-seeking intentions, we used a reasoned action approach to experimentally investigate help-seeking intentions for depressive symptoms. Due to negative interpretation biases among those who suffer from depression, scholars have previously warned against attempts to decrease feelings of responsibility for one's depression in health messages. We tested the determinants of help-seeking intentions as a function of exposure to depression help-seeking messages that differed in responsibility cues. Findings revealed that in our sample low responsibility health message framing did not affect determinants of help-seeking intentions. We identified instrumental attitude (β = .53) and descriptive norms (β = .24) as determinants of intentions to seek help (R2 = .42) across message conditions and across levels of depression. These findings indicate potentially important targets for messages that seek to increase help-seeking among depressed college students.
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