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Motor Vehicle Injury – Alcohol-Impaired Driving: Mass Media Campaigns

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What the CPSTF Found

About The Systematic Review

The CPSTF finding is based on evidence from a systematic review of 8 studies (search period through June 2000).

The review was conducted on behalf of the CPSTF by scientists from CDC’s Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention with input from a team of specialists in systematic review methods and experts in research, practice, and policy related to motor vehicle injury prevention.

Context

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Summary of Results

More details about study results are available in the published evidence review pdf icon [PDF - 667 kB].

The systematic review included 8 studies.

  • The total number of alcohol-related crashes decreased by a median of 13% (7 studies).
  • The number of alcohol-related crashes that led to injuries decreased by a median of 10% (6 studies).
  • The proportion of drivers who had consumed alcohol had net decreases of 30% and 158% (2 studies).
  • Evaluated mass media campaigns had the following components:
    • A theoretical framework in communications research
    • Pretested messages
    • High levels of audience exposure to the message, mostly through paid advertising
  • Results did not differ according to the message appeals used.

Summary of Economic Evidence

More details about study results are available in the published evidence review pdf icon [PDF - 667 kB].

Cost–benefit analyses were done for two of the campaigns evaluated in this review; one campaign from Australia and one campaign implemented in two cities in Kansas. Monetary values are presented in 1997 U.S. dollars.

  • In all three sites, the estimated societal benefits were substantially greater than the costs of developing and airing the campaign messages.
  • One analysis reported on the first 23 months of a campaign in Victoria, Australia.
    • The cost was $403,174 per month for advertisement development, supporting media, media placement, and concept research.
    • Estimated savings from medical costs, productivity losses, pain and suffering, and property damage were $8,324,532 per month, with $3,214,096 of these savings coming from averted medical costs.
  • Analyses of six-month campaigns in Wichita (using paid media) and Kansas City, Kansas (using public service announcements) reported total costs of $454,060 and $322,660, respectively. These costs included planning and evaluation research, message production, and media scheduling.
    • Total savings from averted costs of insurance administration, premature funeral, legal and court, medical payments, property damage, rehabilitation, and employers’ losses were estimated at $3,431,305 for the Wichita campaign and $3,676,399 in Kansas City.

Applicability

Results should be applicable to carefully planned and pretested mass media campaigns that meet the following conditions:

  • Ads reach the intended audience often enough.
  • Intervention settings have other ongoing prevention activities (e.g., grassroots activities, enhanced law enforcement efforts).
  • Messages target any audiences of driving age.

Evidence Gaps

Additional research and evaluation are needed to answer the following questions and fill existing gaps in the evidence base. (What are evidence gaps?)

  • What is the relative effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of various campaign themes (e.g., law enforcement, legal penalties, social stigma, guilt, injury to self and others) for reducing alcohol-impaired driving and alcohol-related crashes? For influencing public support for stronger prevention activities?
  • What is the dose–response curve for varying levels of advertising exposure (e.g., none, light, moderate, and heavy)? Does the shape of this curve vary according to message content and the outcome evaluated?
  • What is the relative effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of different media types (TV, radio, etc.)? Paid advertising and public service announcements?
  • What is the optimal exposure schedule for alcohol-impaired driving mass media campaigns (e.g., intermittent waves of messages vs. a steady flow)?
  • How should mass media campaigns be adapted to the changing media environment (e.g., market segmentation, Internet, message filtering devices)?
  • To what extent are certain population groups more or less likely to be influenced by mass media campaigns? Are audiences in areas with high levels of law enforcement and other prevention activities predisposed to react positively to campaign messages?
  • Are some themes more likely than others to influence “hard-to-reach” target groups (e.g., enforcement themes for "hard-core" drinking drivers)?
  • What measurement issues need to be addressed to improve assessment of media and message exposure? What research designs can best address problems in measuring exposure?

Study Characteristics

  • Evaluated mass media campaigns had several components in common:
    • A theoretical framework in communications research
    • Pretested messages
    • High levels of audience exposure to the message, mostly through paid advertising
  • Campaigns were implemented in settings that had other prevention efforts in place, such as high-visibility enforcement of impaired driving laws.
  • Campaign messages ranged from those focused on law enforcement activities and the legal consequences of drinking and driving to the social and health consequences of alcohol-impaired driving. Results did not differ according to the message appeals used.
  • Included studies assessed intervention effectiveness on fatal crashes, fatal and nonfatal injury crashes combined, crashes that damage property, and drivers’ BACs.

Publications