Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Public Health and BioMed Central.

Open Access Research article

Evaluation of a brief anti-stigma campaign in Cambridge: do short-term campaigns work?

Sara Evans-Lacko*, Jillian London, Kirsty Little, Claire Henderson and Graham Thornicroft

Author Affiliations

King's College London, Institute of Psychiatry, Health Services and Population Research Department, Box P029, De Crespigny Park, London SE5 8AF, UK

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Public Health 2010, 10:339  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-339

Published: 14 June 2010

Abstract

Background

In view of the high costs of mass-media campaigns, it is important to understand whether it is possible for a media campaign to have significant population effects over a short period of time. This paper explores this question specifically in reference to stigma and discrimination against people with mental health problems using the Time to Change Cambridge anti-stigma campaign as an example.

Methods

410 face-to-face interviews were performed pre, during and post campaign activity to assess campaign awareness and mental health-related knowledge, attitudes and behaviours.

Results

Although campaign awareness was not sustained following campaign activity, significant and sustained shifts occurred for mental health-related knowledge items. Specifically, there was a 24% (p < 0.001) increase in persons agreeing with the statement: If a friend had a mental health problem, I know what advice to give them to get professional help, following the campaign. Additionally, for the statement: Medication can be an effective treatment for people with mental health problems, there was a 10% rise (p = 0.05) in the proportion of interviewees responding 'agree' or 'strongly agree' following the campaign. These changes, however, were not evident for attitudinal or behaviour related questions.

Conclusions

Although these results only reflect the impact of one small scale campaign, these preliminary findings suggest several considerations for mass-media campaign development and evaluation strategies such as: (1) Aiming to influence outcomes pertaining to knowledge in the short term; (2) Planning realistic and targeted outcomes over the short, medium and long term during sustained campaigns; and (3) Monitoring indirect campaign effects such as social discourse or other social networking/contact in the evaluation.