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Scared Into Good Health

(File photo)

(File photo)

(Dr. Brian McDonough) Dr. Brian McDonough
Dr. Brian McDonough has been medical editor at KYW Newsradio for more...
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By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - We have seen it many times on television or heard it on the radio. Commercials and public service announcements that use fear to essentially scare someone into healthier behavior.

But is it a good idea to frighten people, and is it effective?

An example of fear are anti-smoking campaigns which have used vivid images depicting damage to the lungs caused by smoking or horrific scenes from drunk driving motor vehicle accidents.

Here is what we know from prior studies.

Teens react more intensely and emotionally to these commercials than young adults. I think there is a value to showing the damage that can be caused by bad behavior but from years of practice I can also tell you that there needs to be education as well.

Scaring people is not enough. You have to provide additional help.