Skip navigation.

Use of mass media campaigns to change health behaviour

Publication year: 
Corporate author: 
Wakefield, Melanie A, Loken, Barbara, Hornik, Robert C
Publication details: 
Australia, Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer, 2010
Publication in: 
Lancet 2010; 376: 1261–71

In this review we discuss the outcomes of mass media campaigns in the context of various health-risk behaviours (eg, use of tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs, heart disease risk factors, sex-related behaviours, road safety, cancer screening and prevention, child survival, and organ or blood donation). We conclude that mass media campaigns can produce positive changes or prevent negative changes in health-related behaviours across large populations. We assess what contributes to these outcomes, such as concurrent availability of required services and products, availability of community-based programmes, and policies that support behaviour change. Finally, we propose areas for improvement, such as investment in longer better-funded campaigns to achieve adequate population exposure to media messages.