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Paid advertising for AIDS prevention–would the ends justify the means?


An examination by the Centers for Disease Control and the Research Triangle Institute concluded that “hard-to-reach” populations could be reached with AIDS prevention messages through the broadcast and print media and that a study should be undertaken to assess whether paid placement of these messages could have an effect on HIV-related behaviors. The recommended target population for a study of paid advertising would be sexually active 18-24-year-old black urban dwellers. Its behavioral objectives would include abstinence and safer sex practices. For any evaluation of a paid advertising campaign to be valid, there would have to be extensive audience profiling, research into the development of the message, pretesting of the message, and involvement of the community. The proposed study would include measurement of various “dosage” levels of paid advertising, use of a no-intervention comparison group, and a novel data collection technique. Although a specific target group and specific messages would be involved, the evaluation would make a substantial contribution to resolving the broader issue of whether and how mass media should be used directly or indirectly to change or reinforce health-related behaviors.

Donovan RJ, Jason J, Gibbs DA, Kroger F

Public Health Rep 1991 Nov-Dec;106(6):645-51

PMID: 1659711