The Impacts of Health Promotion Videos on Awareness of Body Dissatisfaction

Health promotion videos can increase awareness of body dissatisfaction without any negative consequences, according to a recent study published by a former Australian Rotary Health (ARH) PhD Scholarship recipient.

In the study (Impact of viewing body image health promotion videos in adult men and women: Comparison of narrative and informational approaches), ARH ‘Lorraine and Bruce McKenzie Scholarship’ awardee Dr Siân McLean from La Trobe University compared the impact of narrative (scripted stories) and informational (documentary) filmmaking on raising awareness of body dissatisfaction, and whether this resulted in unintended harm.

Four versions of two videos, produced by Big Picture Storytelling, were shown to the 226 men and 229 women recruited to the study. The separate narrative and informational style videos were shown either with or without persuasive appeals, aimed to assess the impact on perceptions of the importance of body dissatisfaction.

Siân said that overall, viewing the videos increased mental health literacy related to body dissatisfaction.

Here were some of the key findings:

  • Participants had an increased understanding of the importance of body dissatisfaction as a public health issue after watching the informational (documentary) video – with or without the persuasive appeals. However, this was not seen in the narrative (scripted video).
  • Participants felt less anxious after viewing the videos but experienced no change in depressed mood or confidence.
  • Body shape and muscularity satisfaction increased in both women and men after viewing the videos.
  • After viewing the videos, women reported plans to reduce their ‘negative body-talk’ and reported feeling more satisfied with their body weight.
  • Understanding of the issue of body dissatisfaction and related behaviours increased in participants after watching the videos.
  • This increase in awareness of body dissatisfaction also did not inadvertently cause harm.

“Outcomes for other body dissatisfaction Mental Health Literacy variables, perceptions of the problematic nature of body-talk and appearance comparisons, increased over time but did not differ between video conditions, suggesting that both approaches, with or without a persuasive appeal, were equally effective,” Siân said.

This study extends previous findings for body satisfaction by demonstrating positive effects in men as well as women and in early to mid-adults instead of the usual adolescent and college age samples.

“Further, assessment of body satisfaction also included muscularity satisfaction, enhancing relevance for men, and mood outcomes were also examined. Thus, these findings indicate broader applicability of body image-related social marketing messages and suggest potentially positive outcomes from dissemination across different sectors of the community,” Siân said.

Read the full article here.

Dr Siân McLean has also recently completed her Australian Rotary Health Mental Health Research Grant project ‘Enhancing social media literacy to decrease body dissatisfaction: A randomised controlled trial’, with results expected to be released later this year.

To support more important mental health research like Siân’s, please consider donating to our COVID-19 appeal today.

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Media contact: Jessica Cooper –

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