The impact of brief messages on HSV-2 screening uptake among female defendants in a court setting: A randomized controlled trial utilizing prospect theory

Academic Article


  • Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. Epidemiologic data demonstrate that women involved with the criminal justice system in the United States are at high risk for sexually transmitted infections, including herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). Female defendants were recruited from a misdemeanor court to assess whether brief framed messages utilizing prospect theory could encourage testing for HSV-2. Participants were randomly assigned to a message condition (gain, loss, or control), completed an interviewer-administered survey assessing factors associated with antibody test uptake/refusal and were offered free point-of-care HSV-2 serologic testing. Although individuals in the loss-frame group accepted testing at the highest rate, an overall statistical difference in HSV-2 testing behavior by group (p ≤.43) was not detected. The majority of the sample (74.6%) characterized receiving a serological test for HSV-2 as health affirming. However, this did not moderate the effect of the intervention nor was it significantly associated with test acceptance (p ≤.82). Although the effects of message framing are subtle, the findings have important theoretical implications given the participants' characterization of HSV-2 screening as health affirming despite being a detection behavior. Implications of study results for health care providers interested in brief, low cost interventions are also explored.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Roth AM; Van Der Pol B; Fortenberry JD; Dodge B; Reece M; Certo D; Zimet GD
  • Start Page

  • 230
  • End Page

  • 236
  • Volume

  • 20
  • Issue

  • 2