In the context of health messaging, attribute framing relates to how health effects can be framed using positive or negative words. 


“10% of early stage breast cancer patients die from the disease.”


“90% of early stage breast cancer patients reach the five year survival mark”


Public health messaging is often framed around gain and loss.

loss-framed: describes the costs and risks of engaging in risky behavior

gain-framed: describes the benefits and positive outcomes of avoiding risky behavior

i.e. “if you don’t quit smoking, you be at higher risk for heart disease”


“if you quit smoking, you will improve your heart health”

Prospect theory dictates that people will respond to loss and gain-framed messages differently.

What kind of framing techniques are we able to identify via textual analysis?

How: Words corresponding with risk, avoidance, prevention, protection were searched within the corpus using Voyant Tools. Using a tool for concordance, context for each word was assessed to see if they fell within the category of positive/negative and/or gain/loss based framing.

the corpus was searched for these terms:


The majority of the phrases identified (61%) were either negatively or loss-framed

18 distinct phrases were identified within eight videos from the entire collection

11 phrases were either negatively framed or loss-based (-)

7 phrases were positively framed or gain-based (+)

Notably, of the 7 positively/gain-based statements, 5 were from the sole video in the collection aimed at women’s health education

“Fight Syphilis”

“But he can go wrong. He will go wrong unless the people fight with knowledge, with treatment, with blood tests to search the enemy out. Yes, the people must fight to guard against the blindness that Syphilis may cause. To prevent the insanity the disease can bring. To prevent to crippling, the broken minds, the twisted limbs, the suffering and the poverty.” (-)

“Learn the facts. With knowledge and intelligent action, the people of America can eradicate the venereal diseases” (+)

“Soldier from the Tropics” Malaria education (-)

“It will happen again over and over in a hundred American towns unless we stop it from happening.”

“Strictly Personal” Women’s health

“Proper exercise will save you the embarrassment of being called one of those attractive from the neck up girls. And I don’t mean the intellectual type.” (+)

“If you use it and your muscles and a little self-discipline you’ll be surprised how much you personally can do to make yourself look better and work better and longer” (+)

“Planned exercise can also aid the internal mechanism of the body by aiding in the prevention of constipation and menstrual distress.” (+)

“But there’s another more usual result of ignoring the ABCs of a sensible health regime. It’s a condition common among GIs. It often appears very funny to the other fellow, but never to its victim.” (-)

Never powder a large nose first. It will become a highlight.” (-)

Not being able to make the grade is an extreme example of what happens to people who avoid proper rest, daily exercise, wholesome diet.” (-)

“But when you stand and sit correctly they assume their proper place and don’t interfere with your natural functions.” (+)

“if your posture is good and your abdominal muscles firm, you’ll suffer less pain during menstruation.” (+)

The Silent War- Colombia’s Fight against Yellow Fever

“And they know one thing more –that if three are sick with yellow fever, two will surely die and only one will live.” (-)

Save a Day” Industrial hazard education

“Every one of these precautions help to save a day for the worker and his family. For industry. For the nation.” (+)

Health Education Against Malaria” 

“now that you’ve screened in that front porch, you can really relax without fear of catching malaria.” (-)

“to the infected individual it means exhaustion and sickness that may make him an invalid for life. Run-down home with primitive household facilities and unprotected children like these are the results, unless, proper health information on malaria is handed down to everyone.” (-)

“Commandments for Health: Use Your Head” cleanliness & hygiene

Avoid contaminating any area which could result in dysentery for your entire unit!” (-)

“Commandments for Health: Drinking Water”

“Thou shalt not drink water from any other source than that designated, else thou become victim to an unhappy fate more painful than Japanese lead.” (-)

“Thou shalt use thy water sparingly and wisely else thy days and thy brothers days shall be numbered.” (-)