Date of Graduation

5-2019

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Community Health Promotion (PhD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Health, Human Performance and Recreation

Advisor

Kristen Jozkowski

Committee Member

Ron Warren

Second Committee Member

Brandon Crawford

Third Committee Member

Wenjuo Lo

Fourth Committee Member

Heather Blunt-Vinti

Fifth Committee Member

Kelly Cleland

Keywords

Abortion, Abortion legislation, Arkansas, Empathy, Video intervention

Abstract

U.S. abortion restrictions diminish access and perpetuate a culture of hostility toward abortion seekers. Support for restrictions is high—potentially, because restriction knowledge is low and attitudes are complex. The current study focused on knowledge and support of restrictions and empathy for abortions seekers among Arkansans. The purpose was to evaluate the effectiveness of a video intervention intended to increase awareness of Arkansas abortion restrictions and induce empathy for abortion seekers.

Using a randomized controlled trial with pre-, post-, and follow-up design, a sample of Arkansans (N = 369) were randomly assigned to one of five video conditions--either a control or an intervention, varying by actor’s race and pregnancy narrative. Data were analyzed across the study with repeated-measures analyses of variance, chi-squared analyses, and hierarchical regressions.

Manuscript 1: For knowledge of restrictions, there was a statistically significant interaction between the effects of time and video condition. Specifically, post-test scores were significantly higher than pre-test and follow-up scores. In terms of support for restrictions, the time main effect was significant, but the group main effect was nonsignificant. Manuscript 2: chi-squares indicated participants who watched a testimonial where the woman was raped had higher empathetic feeling scores. Post-test empathy sum scores were a function of sex, experience with abortion and sexual assault, baseline Empathic Concern, and video condition; follow-up scores were a function of personal experiences with abortion and sexual assault, sex, and Empathic Concern. The testimonial depicting a Black woman who was raped induced the most empathy at post-test.

The intervention was effective in increasing awareness and decreasing support for myriad Arkansas abortion restrictions. Knowledge scores were significantly higher among those who watched a testimonial; this may be because information was repeated or because emotional connections made the information more memorable. Support decreased across the study, however, the intervention did not have the hypothesized effect on this outcome. Prior personal experiences and internalization of abortion stigma can affect empathy induction. People were more empathetic for the woman who was raped compared with the consensual narrative. The hierarchy of abortion narratives may influence perceptions of abortion seekers.

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