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Using a mass media campaign to raise women's awareness of the link between alcohol and cancer: cross-sectional pre-intervention and post-intervention evaluation surveys
  1. Helen G Dixon1,
  2. Iain S Pratt2,
  3. Maree L Scully1,
  4. Jessica R Miller3,
  5. Carla Patterson3,
  6. Rebecca Hood3,
  7. Terry J Slevin2
  1. 1Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer, Cancer Council Victoria, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  2. 2Cancer Council Western Australia, Shenton Park, Western Australia, Australia
  3. 3Drug and Alcohol Office, Government of Western Australia, Mount Lawley, Western Australia, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Iain S Pratt; SPratt{at}


Objectives To evaluate the effectiveness of a population-based, statewide public health intervention designed to improve women's awareness and knowledge of the link between alcohol and cancer.

Design Cross-sectional tracking surveys conducted pre-intervention and post-intervention (waves I and III of campaign).

Setting Western Australia.

Participants Cross-sectional samples of Western Australian women aged 25–54 years before the campaign (n=136) and immediately after wave I (n=206) and wave III (n=155) of the campaign.

Intervention The ‘Alcohol and Cancer’ mass media campaign ran from May 2010 to May 2011 and consisted of three waves of paid television advertising with supporting print advertisements.

Main outcome measures Campaign awareness; knowledge of drinking guidelines and the link between alcohol and cancer; intentions towards drinking.

Results Prompted recognition of the campaign increased from 67% following wave I to 81% following wave III (adjusted OR (adj OR)=2.31, 95% CI 1.33 to 4.00, p=0.003). Improvements in women's knowledge that drinking alcohol on a regular basis increases cancer risk were found following wave I (adj OR=2.60, 95% CI 1.57 to 4.30, p<0.001) and wave III (adj OR=4.88, 95% CI 2.55 to 9.36, p<0.001) compared with baseline. Knowledge of the recommended number of standard drinks for low risk in the long term increased between baseline and wave I (adj OR=1.68, 95% CI 1.02 to 2.76, p=0.041), but not baseline and wave III (adj OR=1.42, 95% CI 0.84 to 2.39, p=0.191). Among women who drink alcohol, the proportion expressing intentions to reduce alcohol consumption increased significantly between baseline and wave III (adj OR=2.38, 95% CI 1.11 to 5.12, p=0.026). However, no significant reductions in recent drinking behaviour were found following the campaign.

Conclusions Results indicate a population-based mass media campaign can reach the target audience and raise awareness of links between alcohol and cancer, and knowledge of drinking guidelines. However, a single campaign may be insufficient to measurably curb drinking behaviour in a culture where pro-alcohol social norms and product marketing are pervasive.

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