Campaigns and Informational Approaches to Increase Physical Activity: Stand-Alone Mass Media Campaigns
Stand-alone mass media campaigns are interventions that rely on mass media channels to deliver messages about physical activity to large and relatively undifferentiated audiences. These campaigns are designed to:
- Increase awareness and/or knowledge of the benefits of physical activity
- Influence attitudes and beliefs about physical activity
- Change physical activity behaviors within defined populations
Messages are transmitted using channels such as newspapers, brochures, manuals, radio, television, billboards, and websites either singly or in combination.
Stand-alone mass media campaigns are distinct from mass media employed as part of broader multicomponent interventions (e.g., broader community-wide campaigns) that also may incorporate individually oriented health behavior change programs and activities, social support networks, and environmental and/or policy changes.
Summary of Task Force Recommendations & Findings
The Community Preventive Services Task Force concludes there is insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of stand-alone mass media campaigns to increase physical activity at the population level.
Sixteen eligible studies that evaluated stand-alone mass media campaigns of varied intensity and duration (i.e., 1 week to 5 years), targeting varied populations, using diverse control and comparison conditions and diverse physical activity outcome measures, found modest and inconsistent effects.
Results from the Systematic Reviews
The Task Force finding is based on evidence from a Community Guide systematic review published in 2002 (Kahn et al., search period 1980-2000) combined with more recent evidence (search period 2000-2009). The Task Force finding of insufficient evidence to determine effectiveness of this intervention remains unchanged.
Sixteen studies qualified for the review (three from the previous review and thirteen from the more recent search). Study duration ranged from 1 week to 4 years.
- Proportion of people who reported being physically active (as defined within each study):
- Median absolute increase of 3.4 percentage points (Interquartile interval [IQI]: -0.6 to +5.7 percentage points; 10 studies)
- Median relative increase of 6.7% (IQI: -1.6% to +14.1%; 10 studies)
- In three studies, people reported spending more time engaging in physical activity: median relative increase of 4.4% (range of 3.1% to 18.2%).
- Three additional studies found people reported being more active as a result of a campaign, though increases were modest.
The review findings are 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 promoting physical activity.
An economic review of this intervention was not conducted because the Task Force found insufficient evidence to determine its effectiveness.
- Summary evidence table [PDF - 114 KB]
Brown DR, Soares J, Epping JM, Lankford TJ, Wallace JS, Hopkins D, Ramsey Buchanan L, Orleans CT, Community Preventive Services Task Force. Stand-alone mass media campaigns to increase physical activity. A Community Guide updated review. [PDF - 211 KB] Am J Prev Med 2012;43(5):551–61.
Community Preventive Services Task Force. Stand-alone mass media campaigns to increase physical activity. Updated findings from the Community Preventive Services Task Force. [PDF - 60 KB] Am J Prev Med 2012;43(5):562–4.
More Community Guide publications about Promoting Physical Activity.
Kahn EB, Ramsey LT, Brownson R, et al. The effectiveness of interventions to increase physical activity: a systematic review. [PDF - 3.14MB] Am J Prev Med 2002;22(4S):73-107.
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. Campaigns and informational approaches to increase physical activity: stand-alone mass media campaigns. www.thecommunityguide.org/pa/campaigns/massmedia.html. Last updated: MM/DD/YYYY.
Review completed: March 2010
- Page last reviewed: September 6, 2012
- Page last updated: September 6, 2012
- Content source: The Guide to Community Preventive Services