This experimental study (N=146) investigates how sources in television news (government official vs. doctor), perceptions of crisis severity (high vs. low), and perceptions of self-efficacy messages (presence vs. absence) in TV news stories about the H1N1 flu affect the public’s perception of the government responsibility for the public health crisis and their personal control for preventing contraction of the H1N1 flu. Results reveal significant three-way interactions on perceptions of government crisis responsibility and personal control. Findings show that when government officials are included in news stories with messages about how to keep safe during a severe public health crisis, the public tends to see the government as less responsible for the crisis. These findings suggest that government officials should present government health messages in severe crises rather than doctors and that self-efficacy message should always be included in government health messages.
Key words: Public health crisis, crisis severity, health news source.
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