The use of images in the promotion of health behaviors | Fact-sheets collection from the Portuguese COVID-19 pandemic Task Force on Behavioral Sciences

Ricardo R. Santos, Osvaldo Santos, Margarida Gaspar de Matos


The use of images is highly frequent in science and health communication, and it is usually considered to be very effective to transmit health messages. Although not so much attention has been paid to measuring the effects of using visual elements in public health communication, images can indeed contribute to increasing effectiveness in promoting adherence to health behaviors. The choice between images that activated negative emotions, such as fear or threat, versus images that induce positive emotions, such as emotions resulting from social support, or rather emotional-neutral images, needs to be grounded in evidence about how emotional arousal may impact health-oriented decisions. This fact sheet was developed to provide easy-to-use scientific pieces of evidence about the use of images for health promotion to stakeholders involved in public health decisions.


Public health support; Evidence-based policies; Policy brief; Health communication

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