Getting the Message

Getting the Message

By Jim Miller

Intimate partner violence is a major public health problem that accounts for nearly a quarter (22 percent) of violent crimes against women, reports School of Nursing faculty member Jacquelyn C. Campbell, PhD, RN.

Some experts have recommended using public awareness campaigns to inform women at risk about ways of getting help, and to change public attitudes. Intrigued by the idea, Campbell set out to conduct an extensive review of such campaigns, hoping to gain a better understanding of their potential for success and their limitations. Her results appear in the Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma.

To date, the number of public education efforts aimed at intimate partner violence has been small, Campbell found, and there have been “even fewer articles reporting research related to public education campaigns.” So she broadened the campaigns she examined to include those that have targeted other high-profile health issues such as HIV.

Based on the available data, Campbell concludes that there is reason to believe that a well-designed media campaign can indeed change attitudes and have some effect on behavior.

Among the points cited for campaign effectiveness are: directing it toward a specific population and matching messages to how ready people are to make changes; use of messages directed at a behavior that is easily understood; supporting a campaign aimed at risk reduction behaviors with elements such as skills training, face-to-face communications, social support, and interventions; and providing messages that are culturally relevant.

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