Background: Assessing the immediate effects of mass-media campaigns provides early evidence of campaign reach into the defined target populations. Assessing these effects early in a multi-year campaign allows for better message targeting in subsequent years. Design: Cross-sectional analysis of a population cohort. Data were collected annually; this paper reports on 1-year outcome data following a mass-media-led intervention to increase physical activity among children aged 9-13 years. The groups initially reached by the campaign and those that understood the campaign messages were identified. Analysis was carried out using logistic regression. Participants: Nationally representative cohort of 2729 children aged 9-13 years (tweens). Intervention: National mass-communications campaign (VERB™) from June 2002 to June 2003, using television, print, and radio as the primary communication channels. In addition, there were promotions in communities, in schools, and on the Internet. Main outcome measures: Prompted and unprompted awareness of the VERB campaign and understanding of the key campaign message. Results: After 1 year, tweens' unprompted awareness of VERB was 17.3%; prompted awareness was 57%; 25.6% had no awareness of VERB. Prompted awareness did not differ by child's age, gender, or ethnicity but was associated with being from a middle- or high-income household, having a parent who was a college graduate, and being active on 7 or more days the previous week. Unprompted awareness was significantly associated with being a girl, being aged 12-14 years, being white, being from a moderate- or high-income household, having a parent with a college degree, and doing 7 or more sessions of physical activity during the week before the survey. The variables associated with high levels of understanding of the campaign message were similar to those for campaign awareness, except there were no differences in campaign understanding by age, and a significant association was found between campaign understanding and parental approval of physical activity. Conclusions: Measuring initial campaign impact identified the magnitude of immediate effects on population target groups achieved through a mass-media campaign. Campaign planners used the information to develop new messages and adjust media purchases in subsequent years of the VERB campaign.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health