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Background:

Mass media campaigns are a necessary tool for public health practitioners to reach large populations and promote healthy behaviors. Most health scholars have concluded that mass media can significantly influence the health behaviors of populations; however the effects of such campaigns are typically modest and may require significant resources. A recent Community Preventive Services Task Force review on stand-alone mass media campaigns concluded there was insufficient evidence to determine their effectiveness in increasing physical activity, partly due to mixed methods and modest and inconsistent effects on levels of physical activity.

Methods:

A secondary analysis was performed on the campaigns evaluated in the Task Force review to determine use of campaign-building principles, channels, and levels of awareness and their impact on campaign outcomes. Each study was analyzed by 2 reviewers for inclusion of campaign building principles.

Results:

Campaigns that included 5 or more campaign principles were more likely to be successful in achieving physical activity outcomes.

Conclusion:

Campaign success is more likely if the campaign building principles (formative research, audience segmentation, message design, channel placement, process evaluation, and theory-based) are used as part of campaign design and planning.

The authors are with the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA. Lankford (tfl4@cdc.gov) is corresponding author.