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Educating Young Adults About HIV and AIDS: the Impact of Direct Response Television Public Service Advertising

Limited resources combined with a desire to reach as many people as possible often make direct
response public service announcements an important tool in educational campaigns. To understand
the impact of direct-response TV PSAs, and find ways to increase their effectiveness, this study examined 1) the effects of a highly targeted HIV prevention message on young adults’ knowledge,
perceptions, and intentions; and 2) whether altering two PSA elements, the telephone number used
and the length of time it was displayed, would affect viewers’ recall and intention responses.  The results indicated exposure to the PSA had no discernible effects on HIV-related knowledge, but did
affect perceptions.  Compared with an unexposed control group, students exposed to the PSA a)
estimated seeing more HIV- and AIDS-related PSAs, b) rated the usefulness of TV PSAs lower, c)
were more likely to rate their chances of contracting HIV as low or none (83 percent vs. 66 percent,
p < ,051. and d) expressed less desire to obtain more information. The use of an all-mnemonic phone
“number” resulted in a threefold increase in recall of the CDC National AIDS Hotline phone number,
but did not affect intentions to call. Overall, the results reaffirm the importance of deploying
strategies that go beyond reliance on either a single PSA or TV PSAs alone to affect knowledge,
perceptions, or intentions.



Nowak GJ, Jorgensen C, Salmon C, and Jason J.

J Direct Marketing 1993;7:31-41.