Methods of Health Promotion

Media campaigns

Media campaigns are a good source to use in order to bring their message forward about how to lead a safe & healthy lifestyle via television adverts, posters and leaflets. E.g. A Scottish campaign on drink-driving was shown on TV to try and reduce the amount of drink-driving related accidents.

Cowpe, Chip-pan fire prevention

  • Aim: Test the effectiveness of an advertising campaign.
  • Methodology:
    • Quasi-experiment.
    • Shown in 10 UK regional television areas.
    • Two quantitative surveys.
    • Two TV advertisements shown both lasting 60secs.
  • Findings:
    • Net decline in each area over the 12-month period from between 7%-25%.
    • Largest reduction was during the campaign.
    • Questionnaire showed an increase in awareness. (62% to 90% awareness and after the campaign 96%).
  • Conclusion: The advertising proved effective as shown by the reduction in chip-pan fires. However as time passes the effectiveness of the campaign passes away as well. Viewers are also less likely to be influenced by the campaign if overexposed.
  • Evaluation:
    • Over-use of media campaigns reduces effect and awareness.
    • Small change as shown by Scottish government only 4% fall, therefore it could be said that advertising campaigns are not as effective as individuals would think.
    • Natural experiment used, cannot establish cause and effect.
    • High in ecological validity this is as individuals were shown live broadcasting television adverts which they are likely to normally watch at their own homes.


Using the law to influence people’s behaviour in a positive way. Changing the law can force them to adhere to a particular behaviour. While a government cannot make it law that people eat more healthily. The government can restrict where people smoke and make sure children wear cycle helmets.

Dannenberg et al, Bicycle helmet laws and educational campaigns

  • Findings:
    • All areas have increased in helmet usage (Maryland).
    • It is said that only 4% wore helmets before the helmet law and after the law had been passed 47% wore them.
    • Questionnaire response rates were between 41-53%.
  • Conclusion: Although people may not wear helmets on a daily basis, the law did help improve usage. A follow up study by Cote et al (1992), found similar rates of cycle helmet usage.
  • Evaluation:
    • High in reliability, as a second study was conducted and proved to show similar results to Danneberg's.
    • The questionnaire could be biased as parents were asked to help therefore they might have answered that there child does wear a helmet (even if not) as they wouldn't want to be seen as bad parents and the fear of being prosecuted.
    • The sample is not representative of the general population as only school children were used and this doesn’t give any statistics for the older generations which might be more likely to cycle.
    • It is very effective and in Maryland it is claimed that wearing helmets will prevent 100 deaths and 56,000 hospitalised head injuries each year.

Fear arousal

The idea here is that fear can be aroused in people by suggesting to them what might happen if they do not change their behaviour.

Janis & Feshback, Effects of fear arousal

  • Aim: They studied fear arousal applied to oral hygiene in students.
  • Findings:
    • Amount of knowledge on dental hygiene did not differ between groups.
    • Strong fear-appeal – seen in a more positive light agreed that talk was interesting but didn’t affect their behaviour.
    • Low fear-appeal was easier to follow and more people altered their behaviour.
  • Conclusion: Minimal fear arousal tends to work better than strong arousal. So therefore choosing the right level of fear is important in-order to change/improve individuals health behaviours.
  • Evaluation:
    • Ethical issues – psychological harm in the strong fear arousal group. However it is worthwhile if people stop drink-driving or give up smoking. If they give up such behaviours perhaps the ends have justified the means.
    • Sample cannot be generalised to the general population as students were used.
    • Laboratory experiment was used therefore cause and effect can be established this means that it could be said that the independent variable had an effect on the dependent variable.
    • This study has high scientific credibility.
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