I can tell you first hand that mass media campaigns regarding important health issues can make a real difference for people. The letters that we receive after events like this are not only rewarding but they serve as proof that people listen. But letters like these are anecdotal.
Now, a report in the journal The Lancet looks at the effects on mass media campaigns for everything from smoking, to sexually transmitted infections. The report also looked at organ and blood donation.
What the researchers found was that the best campaigns were those that combined efforts with schools or community based organizations. The most successful campaigns involved road safety—seat belts and reducing the rate of drinking and driving. Anti-smoking campaigns were successful except those sponsored by the tobacco industry. They increased the risk of smoking in adolescents.
Reported By: Dr. Brian McDonough, KYW Newsradio Medical Editor