Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Communication and Information



First Advisor

Dr. Nancy Grant Harrington


The process of advance care planning often involves conversations that focus on worst case scenarios and discussions of end-of-life, which makes the topic a daunting one. Most of these conversations occur with older adults or individuals who are seriously ill. However, advance care planning is of importance to those who are healthy, young adults as well. Narrative messages could help simplify the process of approaching such conversations and provide tools for conducting them in a more effective manner.

The proposed study makes use of the causal network model, a model that proposes that the location of information within narratives impacts information perception, to create advance care planning narratives for young adults. More specifically, the study examines how narrative causality can be used to inform the creation of effective narrative persuasive messages. Three hundred and six participants were randomly assigned to one of three conditions with information placed in different locations. Participants could either be assigned to the causal condition with informational statements placed in causal locations, the noncausal condition with informational statements placed in noncausal locations, or in the control condition which did not contain any informational statements. Participants were then asked to respond to a survey asking questions about transportation, identification, recall, perceived truthfulness, perceived importance, processing fluency, attitude, behavioral intent, and behavior.

Results showed no significant differences among conditions for any of the variables except for recall. Participants in the causal and noncausal conditions recalled information more than participants in the control condition; a predicted difference in recall between the causal and noncausal conditions, however, was not found. Despite finding no differences between causal and noncausal conditions, valuable implications are provided regarding theoretical implications of the causal network model, and practical implications are provided for the field of message design.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)