Understanding the characteristics of effective mass media campaigns for back pain and methodological challenges in evaluating their effects

Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2008 Jan 1;33(1):74-80. doi: 10.1097/BRS.0b013e31815e39c8.


Study design: Workshop at the Low Back Pain Forum VIII: Primary Care Research on Low Back Pain held in Amsterdam in June 2006.

Objectives: The aim of the workshop was to 1) describe and compare characteristics and outcomes of back pain media campaigns that have taken place internationally; 2) examine general theories of health behavior change from the mass media literature to determine whether it is possible to develop a theoretical framework to explain the observed outcomes; 3) describe the outcome of discussion and expert consensus around lessons learned from these campaigns that may inform the planning and evaluation of future campaigns; and 4) identify priorities for future research.

Summary of background data: Mass media campaigns designed to alter societal views about back pain have now been performed in several countries. Although these types of campaigns are an established strategy for delivering preventive health messages, there is limited empirical understanding of the characteristics of effective (or ineffective) health campaigns.

Methods: We reviewed the content and outcome of back pain mass media campaigns conducted in Australia, Norway, and Canada using the Cochrane Effective Practice and Organization of Care Review Group data collection checklist. We also reviewed models of health behavior change that could be used to guide the design, planning, and evaluation of future campaigns. The draft article was reviewed by a group of international back pain experts before forming the basis for discussion at the workshop. Expert comments and those of workshop participants were synthesized and incorporated into the final manuscript.

Results: The outcome of discussion and expert consensus around lessons learned from these campaigns are described.

Conclusion: Our article may help to inform the planning and evaluation of future campaigns and identify priorities for future research.

Publication types

  • Congress
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Back Pain* / psychology
  • Education*
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Education / methods*
  • Health Education / organization & administration
  • Health Promotion
  • Humans
  • Mass Media*
  • Program Evaluation / methods*
  • Public Health
  • Social Marketing*