Increasing Cancer Screening: Mass Media
Mass media—including television, radio, newspapers, magazines, and billboards—are used to communicate educational and motivational information about cancer screening. Mass media can be used alone, but almost always include other components (e.g., client reminders) or attempt to capitalize on existing interventions and infrastructure. This review evaluated the effectiveness of mass media when used alone, or its unique contribution when used as part of a multicomponent intervention to increase screening for breast, cervical and colorectal cancers.
Summary of Task Force Recommendations & Findings
The Community Preventive Services Task Force finds insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of mass media interventions in increasing screening for breast, cervical and colorectal cancers because too few studies qualified for the review.
Results from the Systematic Reviews
The Task Force findings are based on evidence from a previously completed review (search period 1966-2004) and an updated review (search period 2004-2008). Updates of reviews are conducted to incorporate more recent evidence.
Two studies qualified for the systematic review; their findings were inconsistent.
- In Australia, radio and newspaper advertisements targeted Italian-speaking women.
- Among women in their fifties, completed mammograms decreased by 16.1% for initial screens and 4.2% for following screens.
- Among women in their sixties, completed mammograms decreased by 10.8% for initial screens and increased by 9.0% for subsequent screens.
- A multicomponent intervention aimed at African-American women included a higher or lower intensity mass media component. When compared with the lower intensity component, the higher intensity program showed:
- A decrease of 2.4 percentage points for mammography
- An increase of 4.2 percentage points for clinical breast exams
- Neither change was statistically significant
Three studies qualified for the systematic review.
- Effects from all three studies were in the favorable direction, but only one reported absolute changes in screening (an increase of 4.7 percentage points).
One study qualified for the systematic review.
- This study examined the effect of higher vs. lower intensity mass media as part of a multicomponent intervention.
- Screening by FOBT: decreased by 4.7 percentage points
- Screening by protoscopy: decreased by 8.0 percentage points
These findings were based on a systematic review of all available studies, conducted on behalf of the Task Force by a team of specialists in systematic review methods, and in research, practice and policy related to cancer prevention and control.
Sabatino SA, Lawrence B, Elder R, Mercer SL, Wilson KM, DeVinney B, Melillo S, Carvalho M, Taplin S, Bastani R, Rimer BK, Vernon SW, Melvin CL, Taylor V, Fernandez M, Glanz K, Community Preventive Services Task Force. Effectiveness of interventions to increase screening for breast, cervical, and colorectal cancers: nine updated systematic reviews for The Guide to Community Preventive Services. [PDF - 235KB] Am J Prev Med 2012;43(1):765-86.
Community Preventive Services Task Force. Updated recommendations for client- and provider-oriented interventions to increase breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer screening. [PDF - 90KB]. Am J Prev Med 2012;43(1):760-4.
More Community Guide publications about Cancer Prevention and Control
The findings and conclusions on this page are those of the Community Preventive Services Task Force and do not necessarily represent those of CDC.
The content of publications of the Guide to Community Preventive Services is in the public domain. Citation as to source, however, is appreciated. Sample citation:
Guide to Community Preventive Services. Increasing cancer screening: mass media. www.thecommunityguide.org/cancer/screening/client-oriented/MassMedia.html. Last updated: MM/DD/YYYY.
Review completed: October 2009
- Page last reviewed: June 21, 2012
- Page last updated: June 21, 2012
- Content source: The Guide to Community Preventive Services