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Economics of Mass Media Health Campaigns with Health-Related Product Distribution

A Community Guide Systematic Review

      Context

      The objective of this systematic review was to determine the costs, benefits, and overall economic value of communication campaigns that included mass media and distribution of specified health-related products at reduced price or free of charge.

      Evidence acquisition

      Economic evaluation studies from a literature search from January 1980 to December 2009 were screened and abstracted following systematic economic review methods developed by The Community Guide. Data were analyzed in 2011.

      Evidence synthesis

      The economic evidence was grouped and assessed by type of product distributed and health risk addressed. A total of 15 evaluation studies were included in the economic review, involving campaigns promoting the use of child car seats or booster seats, pedometers, condoms, recreational safety helmets, and nicotine replacement therapy.

      Conclusions

      Economic merits of the intervention could not be determined for health communication campaigns associated with use of recreational helmets, child car seats, and pedometers, primarily because available economic information and analyses were incomplete. There is some evidence that campaigns with free condom distribution to promote safer sex practices were cost-effective among high-risk populations and the cost per quit achieved in campaigns promoting tobacco cessation with nicotine replacement therapy products may translate to a cost per quality-adjusted life-year less than $50,000. Many interventions were publicly funded trials or programs, and the failure to properly evaluate their economic cost and benefit is a serious gap in the science and practice of public health.
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