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Mass Media Health Communication Campaigns Combined with Health-Related Product Distribution

A Community Guide Systematic Review

      Context

      Health communication campaigns including mass media and health-related product distribution have been used to reduce mortality and morbidity through behavior change. The intervention is defined as having two core components reflecting two social marketing principles: (1) promoting behavior change through multiple communication channels, one being mass media, and (2) distributing a free or reduced-price product that facilitates adoption and maintenance of healthy behavior change, sustains cessation of harmful behaviors, or protects against behavior-related disease or injury.

      Evidence acquisition

      Using methods previously developed for the Community Guide, a systematic review (search period, January 1980–December 2009) was conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of health communication campaigns that use multiple channels, including mass media, and distribute health-related products. The primary outcome of interest was use of distributed health-related products.

      Evidence synthesis

      Twenty-two studies that met Community Guide quality criteria were analyzed in 2010. Most studies showed favorable behavior change effects on health-related product use (a median increase of 8.4 percentage points). By product category, median increases in desired behaviors ranged from 4.0 percentage points for condom promotion and distribution campaigns to 10.0 percentage points for smoking-cessation campaigns.

      Conclusions

      Health communication campaigns that combine mass media and other communication channels with distribution of free or reduced-price health-related products are effective in improving healthy behaviors. This intervention is expected to be applicable across U.S. demographic groups, with appropriate population targeting. The ability to draw more specific conclusions about other important social marketing practices is constrained by limited reporting of intervention components and characteristics.
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