A 10-year retrospective of research in health mass media campaigns: where do we go from here?

J Health Commun. 2006;11(1):21-42. doi: 10.1080/10810730500461059.


Mass media campaigns have long been a tool for promoting public health. How effective are such campaigns in changing health-related attitudes and behaviors, however, and how has the literature in this area progressed over the past decade? The purpose of the current article is threefold. First, I discuss the importance of health mass media campaigns and raise the question of whether they are capable of effectively impacting public health. Second, I review the literature and discuss what we have learned about the effectiveness of campaigns over the past 10 years. Finally, I conclude with a discussion of possible avenues for the health campaign literature over the next 10 years. The overriding conclusion is the following: The literature is beginning to amass evidence that targeted, well-executed health mass media campaigns can have small-to-moderate effects not only on health knowledge, beliefs, and attitudes, but on behaviors as well, which can translate into major public health impact given the wide reach of mass media. Such impact can only be achieved, however, if principles of effective campaign design are carefully followed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Communication
  • Forecasting
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Promotion*
  • Health Services Research / trends
  • Humans
  • Journalism, Medical
  • Mass Media*
  • Social Marketing*