Using A Mass Media Campaign To Raise Awareness Of The Link Between Alcohol And Cancer: Cross-Sectional Pre And Post-Intervention Evaluation

Terry SLEVIN, Cancer Council Western Australia, Australia

1 Education and Research, Cancer Council WA, Subiaco, Australia
2 Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer, Cancer Council Victoria, Melbourne, Australia
3 Drug and Alcohol Office, Mental Health Commission, Perth, Australia

​Given the increasing evidence linking alcohol consumption with cancer risk we sought to evaluate the effectiveness of a population-based, state-wide public health intervention designed to improve women's awareness and knowledge of the link between alcohol and cancer.  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.

We used a 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.

We assessed campaign awareness; knowledge of drinking guidelines and the link between alcohol and cancer; intentions towards drinking.

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).

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.