Challenging Dogma - Spring 2009

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Critique of the Fruits and Veggies: More Matters Campaign- Tiffany Chua

Infectious diseases have been replaced by chronic diseases as the major contributors to mortality in the United States (1). Cardiovascular disease is at the top of the list (1). It is largely considered a preventable disease and, because of this, has been the topic of many epidemiologic studies (1-4). Nutrition studies have investigated the effect of diet on cardiovascular disease and have found an inverse relationship between fruit and vegetable intake and cardiovascular disease (2-4). Along with the heightened focus on diet and nutrition, researchers have noticed the growing obesity rates in the United States, especially in children (5,6). As researchers have accumulated evidence supporting the protective effect of a healthy diet on such problems as cardiovascular disease and obesity, public health practitioners have designed programs to help fight these diseases. This critique will discuss a public health intervention that has attempted to improve people’s health by encouraging consumption of more fruits and vegetables. However, it is unlikely that the program will be able to realize its goals due to innate flaws in its design.

Fruits and Veggies: More Matters
Fruits and Veggies: More Matters is a public health intervention program that is run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Produce for Better Health (PBH), and several other entities including industry and nonprofit organizations (7). It launched on March 19, 2007 as part of the National Fruit and Vegetable Program and replaced the 5 A Day program under the National Fruit & Vegetable for Better Health (7). The 5 A Day program had been in effect since 1988, but in 2005 the Dietary Guidelines for Americans published a report that increased the recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables from 5 servings to 5-13 servings (8,9). The mission of the Fruits and Veggies: More Matters program is to encourage people to eat more fruits and vegetables through awareness and education (7). An interactive website is available at (7). The website includes a program that helps people calculate their personalized fruit and vegetable needs based on one’s age, sex, and activity level. There are printable resources such as recipes and tips for eating healthy that attempt to help people incorporate more fruits and vegetables into their daily meals. Links to other websites that promote healthy eating are provided as well.

The Health Belief Model
The failures of this public health intervention stem mainly from its basis upon the Health Belief Model (HBM). The HBM was the first model that was developed to explain behavior change (10). In brief, it proposes that a person’s decision to change a health behavior is dependent upon whether the perceived benefits outweigh the perceived costs (10). Although there are several weaknesses of the model, it is frequently used to design public health interventions. Additional details of this traditional model have been described previously, however the relevant aspects to this critique will be highlighted again.

Three major pitfalls of this public health intervention are related to three negative aspects of the health belief model. One negative aspect is the HBM’s exclusion of social and environmental factors. A second negative aspect is one that the HBM has in common with other traditional social behavior models - it is designed to address behavior change on an individual level. A third negative aspect is arguably one of the strongest negatives of the HBM – it assumes that people behave rationally.

Ignores Socioeconomic Factors that Affect Access
The Fruits and Veggies: More Matters program promotes a nutritious diet, but does not address any social or environmental factors that could prevent people from eating nutritiously. The program’s website includes a plethora of information, from the nutritional content of a wide variety of different fruits and vegetables to different ways to incorporate more fruits and vegetables in a diet. However, all of this useful information is available mainly to those who have a computer and internet access as well as the motivation to visit the website. Studies have shown that the demographic population in the United States that is least likely to eat sufficient amounts of fruits and vegetables are those with the lowest household income levels (11). These families are probably also the least likely to have internet access much less their own computer.

If economically disadvantaged people do manage to access the website and are interested in eating more fruits and vegetables, they may not be able to buy the fruits and vegetables that the website suggests for two reasons: due to the lack of supermarkets in their neighborhood that carry high quality, fresh produce or due to the financial inability to afford high prices of fresh produce. In general, large supermarkets tend to have a wider selection of produce that is more reasonably priced when compared to small grocery or convenience stores (11). Studies have shown that there are fewer large supermarkets in areas with greater populations of low-socioeconomic families and that high price is a major reason why low-income families choose not to eat fresh fruits and vegetables (11-13). These are critical issues, because people will not be able to take advantage of the information provided by the program if they cannot find a market from which to buy fresh fruits and vegetables or if they cannot afford to buy those fresh fruits and vegetables for their family. The program does not address the fact that fresh fruits and vegetables cost more than processed and fast food, nor does it address the additional inconvenience that may accompany more frequent trips to the supermarket.

These social and environmental factors are significant forces that may work against a person’s ability to adhere to the advice of the Fruits and Veggies: More Matters program. Additionally, the program may fail to reach the very population that needs the most encouragement by heavily relying on their website to educate people. These failures were demonstrated in a study that analyzed the success of the HBM in increasing fruit and vegetable consumption in urban black men, a low socioeconomic status population at increased risk of cardiovascular disease (14).

Targets Individual Adults
The Fruits and Veggies: More Matters program should reach out to both adults and children. With the increasing utilization of computers in children’s education, children have been spending more of their time on the Internet (15). However, the Fruits and Veggies: More Matters website is geared towards adult education. In one sense this is beneficial since studies have shown that there is a significant correlation between a mother’s nutrition knowledge and their child’s nutrition knowledge. This is mostly due to the fact that mothers are their children’s primary care givers and play a major role in shaping their eating habits (16). This serves as evidence to support ensuring that accurate knowledge is readily available to children’s parents to take advantage of this strong, positive relationship.
In another sense, it would be prudent to ensure that children, whose parents do not play a role in encouraging their children to develop healthy eating habits, are given the chance to learn about the nutritional benefits of fruits and vegetables for themselves. One reason why this is so important is because childhood and adolescence are crucial times during which children develop habits that will influence their health behavior throughout adulthood (17). As previously discussed, this development of a healthy diet into adulthood may have long-run beneficial health effects with respect to cardiovascular disease.

In addition to excluding children as part of their target population, the program addresses health behavior change on an individual level. As we have learned from Dr. Michael Siegel’s lectures, the program could be more effective and efficient if it were designed to address behavior change on a group level. The benefits from such an approach would not only be reaped by the individuals who adopt healthier eating habits, but also by society as a whole. The costs related to cardiovascular disease in the United States are expected to exceed $475 billion in 2009 (18). Since fruit and vegetable consumption has been shown to be negatively related to cardiovascular disease as well as obesity (5,6), health care costs associated with these diseases could potentially decrease substantially.

Disregards Irrational Behavior
The Fruits and Veggies: More Matters program assumes that people behave rationally. It believes that simply telling consumers that fruits and vegetables are healthier and that they potentially prevent various diseases will result in their making the choice to seek out and purchase fresh fruits and vegetables. This, however, is not the case with most people. As we have learned from Dr. Siegel, even if people intend to follow through with the behavior – in this case buying fresh fruits and vegetables – it still does not mean that the behavior change will occur.
Studies have shown that even when people are aware of the nutritional content of fruits and vegetables and the positive health effects a nutritious diet can have, they still do not change their eating habits. In children, this relationship has been observed mostly due to the fact they have trouble perceiving the future and thus the relevance of fruits and vegetables to disease prevention (19). In a population of adult black men, perceived health benefits were not associated with fruit and vegetable consumption either (14). Another study investigating the influences on eating habits in adults, taste was the top predictor of what people chose to eat, followed by cost. Only in those people that the study categorized as members of a “health lifestyle cluster” was importance of nutrition a predictor of eating healthful foods (19). Thus, by attempting to promote healthful eating based on benefits from disease prevention, the Fruits and Veggies: More Matters program may only be influencing the decisions of those people who are already attuned to living a healthy lifestyle.

The Fruits and Veggies: More Matters program is a national public health initiative that promotes the benefits of fruit and vegetable consumption, but suffers from three flaws that may prevent it from reaching its goals. It does not address socioeconomic factors that influence fruit and vegetable consumption. It also fails to appeal to children, and falls into the all-too-familiar trap of assuming that people behave rationally.

Being supported by a wide variety of institutions, including the government, industry and nonprofit organizations, the program possesses great potential to reach its goals due to its access to financial and political resources through its contributors. These advantages put the well-intentioned program in a position to create positive change in the American population.
Having been launched a little more than 2 years ago, the program has been re-evaluated at a critical time. There is little question about the growing obesity problem in the United States. A program could have a big impact in the lives of adults, but most especially in the generation of current youths who are still in the position to adopt healthy eating behaviors. In order for this program to effectively improve people’s nutrition across all ages and levels of socioeconomic status, changes will need to be made to improve upon the three critical flaws.

These three critical flaws can be addressed by structuring the design 0f the Fruits and Veggies: More Matters program around the Social Marketing Theory (SMT), including aspects of the Advertising Theory (AT), and the Social Expectations Theory (SET). These are population-level models that are ideal for addressing a wide-spread issue like fruit and vegetable consumption. The improvements that should be made include enacting policies that impose restrictions on supermarkets, implementing school programs, and incorporating media advertisement to promote the program.

Increase Access
A solution which takes social and environmental factors into account has two parts: increased access to education and increased access to fruits and vegetables. The problem with heavily relying on a website to educate people is its assumption that its target population has access to a computer and the Internet. Even fliers distributed at the grocery store do not address this problem since people first have to get to the grocery store in order to see the fliers. Instead of waiting for people to come to the information, the information should come to the people. This can be achieved through mailed pamphlets. Pamphlets should minimize the amount of text and maximize the use of charts and pictures to make them attention-grabbing. They will provide exposure to the benefits of eating more fruits and vegetables, the costs involved with eating more fruit and vegetables, and ways to access them.

The solution to the second part of the access problem adheres to the SET and focuses on changing current social norms, wealth and inconvenience, around fruit and vegetable consumption among the low-income population to affordability and accessibility. Two policy changes can help achieve this goal: one to increase physical access to large-scale supermarkets and one to increase financial access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Supermarkets should be required to locate their stores so that the average income level in the regions of all their stores within a state must not exceed a specified maximum. This would require them to locate their stores in lower income areas that they normally would avoid.

The second part of this policy change proposes a tax on so-called junk food due to their lack of nutritional content. The taxes will subsidize the cost of fresh fruits and vegetables to lower the price of healthy produce in relation to junk food and make nutritious diets financially feasible to low-income populations. Industries affected by these policies will be adverse to these proposals. There will likely be heated discussion concerning which foods to consider junk food and thus liable to the tax. Thorough research will need to be conducted to determine a minimum nutritional content for certain foods. Supporting institutions behind the program will need to harness their political influence to compete against lobbyists that may dispute these policy changes.

Target Children in Addition to Mothers
Policy change, in addition to education, should be used to include children in the target population. The main reasoning behind the original program’s focus on mothers is because, for the most part, they are responsible for buying the family’s groceries and preparing the meals. However, the program should directly target children in addition to mothers so as not to rely on mothers to instill nutrition values. Some mothers may not provide their children with the environment or resources conducive to developing nutritious eating habits. This should not prevent the children of these mothers from having the same opportunity to learn about nutrition as other children.

A Fruits and Veggies: More Matters educational program should be developed and implemented in schools for first through eighth graders. In an article that reviewed the successfulness of obesity interventions based on several different theoretical models, population-level interventions that were tailored to specific groups were the most successful (20). School programs containing two key components will certainly achieve this goal. One component is interactive classroom learning. The Fruits and Veggies: More Matters program should not take the form of another lecture to which children must passively listen. The same article that reviewed obesity interventions found that interactive intervention is more successful than its counterpart; therefore the program should use hands-on activities to teach kids about healthy eating habits (20).

In accordance with the “four Ps” of the SMT, formative research should be done among the different age groups since a six-year-old in first grade will respond to an activity differently than a thirteen-year old in eighth grade. This research should illuminate how one can benefit from changing his/her eating habits, what costs are involved in changing eating habits, and the best ways to gain access to fresh produce. The second component of this educational program is requiring school lunch programs to provide multiple fresh fruit and vegetable options. Provision of these options will give children who eat school lunches the opportunity to choose, and thus practice, actually making healthful decisions.

One may ask where the program plans to get the financial resources to implement this educational program and policy change. Since these changes will only apply to public schools, a portion of school budgets that state governments allocate to public schools will need to be used for this program. Additionally, funding from the health care sector will be sought as Fruits and Veggies: More Matters is a heath promotion program that will result in cost savings in the long-run due to prevention of chronic diseases associated with obesity.

Appeal to People’s Emotions
The solution to the third critique of the Fruits and Veggies: More Matters program utilizes the AT. People’s irrational behavior concerning their food choices should be addressed in ways similar to those that conventional industries use to market their products. In a paper highlighting use of advertisements to promote conventional consumer products, successful advertisements have utilized the emotions of the consumer to help sell their goods (21). There is no reason why public health intervention should not adopt the same tactic for promoting health behavior change. The way that the Fruits and Veggies: More Matters program should achieve this is by creating a brand, a slogan, and a promise. The brand will be a set of values that appeal to both youths and mothers, including physical attractiveness and carefree fun. Commercials, billboards, and magazine spreads will feature a young, attractive woman. She will be doing something as simple as posing on a beach. A fresh fruit or vegetable will appear in her hand or beside her, but not as the focus of the advertisement. The slogan will read “You are what you eat.” The promise of being beautiful and carefree will resonate with youths and young mothers alike. The slogan will brand the program by associating it with physical attractiveness. In a sizeable portion of the advertisements certain celebrities such as musicians and actors will be used to tie the program in with mainstream values. These advertisements will promise consumers that they can look and feel attractive if they eat nutritious fruits and vegetables.

One criticism of this solution highlights the issue of finances. Instead of being funded by the government, these media advertisements will have to be paid for with money from the program’s contributors – more specifically, the industry groups that have deeper pockets than the non-profit or government organizations. Although they will be expensive, these advertisements represent a significant component of the program.

The Fruits and Veggies: More Matters program should be structured around the Social Marketing Theory and include elements from the Advertising Theory and Social Expectations Theory. Implementing policy change is an effective and efficient way to create behavior change on the population level. Modeling advertisements after successful tactics used in conventional product promotion will help the program appeal to the emotional side of the predictably irrational population. Incorporation of all the changes discussed in this paper will help the Fruits and Veggies: More Matters program become a strong public health intervention that will improve the health and wellness of our current population as well as of future generations.

1. Bodenheimer T, Grumbach K. Understanding Health Policy: A Clinical Approach. New York: McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., 2009.
2. Hung HC, Joshipura KJ, Jiang R. Fruit and Vegetable Intake and Risk of Major Chronic Disease. Journal of the National Cancer Institute 2004;96:1577-1584.
3. Panagiotakos DB, Pitsavos C, Kokkions P. Consumption of fruits and vegetables in relation to the risk of developing acute coronary syndromes; the CARDIO2000 case-control study. Nutrition Journal 2003;2:1-6.
4. Veer P, Jansen M, Klerk M. Fruits and Vegetables in the Prevention of Cancer and Cardiovascular Disease. Public Health Nutrition 1999;3:103-107.
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6. Dehghan M, Akhtar-Danesh N, Merchant A. Childhood Obesity, Prevalence and Prevention. Nutrition Journal 2005;4:24-31.
7. Fruits and Veggies Matter. Q&A. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
8. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2005. Food Groups to Encourage. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
9. 5 A Day For Better Health Program USA. Origin of 5 A Day Program. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization.
10. Edberg M. Essentials of Health Behavior: Social and Behavioral Theory in Public Health. Boston, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 2007.
11. Cassady D, Jetter K, Culp J. Is Price a Barrier to Eating More Fruits and Vegetables for Low-Income Families. Journal of the American Dietetic Association 2007;107:1909-1915.
12. Moore LV, Roux A. Associations of Neighborhood Characteristics with the Location and Type of Food Stores. American Journal of Public Health 2006;96:325-331.
13. Powell LM, Slater S, Mirtcheva D. Food Store Availability and Neighborhood Characteristics in the United States. Preventive Medicine 2007;44:189-195.
14. Wolf RL, Lepore SJ, Vandergrift JL, et. al. Knowledge, Barriers, and Stage of Change as Correlates of Fruit and Vegetable Consumption among Urban and Mostly Immigrant Black Men. Journal of the American Dietetic Association 2008;108:1315-1322.
15. Becker HJ. Who's Wired and Who's Not: Children's Access to and Use of Computer Technology. Children and Computer Technology 2000;10:44-75.
16. Gibson EL, Wardle J, Watts CJ. Fruit and Vegetable Consumption, Nutritional Knowledge and Beliefs in Mothers and Children. Appetite 1998;31:205-228.
17. Douglas L. Children’s Food Choice. Nutrition and Food Science 1998;98:14-18.
18. Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
19. Glanz K, Basil M, Maibach E, et. al. Why Americans Eat What They Do: Taste, Nutrition, Cost, Convenience, and Weight Control Concerns as Influences on Food Consumption. Journal of the American Dietetic Association 1998;98:1118-1126.
20. Tufano JT, Karras BT. Mobile eHealth Interventions for Obesity: A Timely Opportunity to Leverage Convergence Trends. Journal of Medical Internet Research 2005;7:e58.
21. David SP, Geer DS. Social Marketing: Application to Medical Education. Annals of Internal Medicine 2001; 134:125-127.

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A Social Sciences Revision of Help for Today, Hope for Tomorrow – Jennifer Stedman

Breast cancer is one of the leading causes of death in women. Unfortunately, even with this knowledge, not enough women are proactive in their health and having regular mammogram screenings. Often, those who are getting screened are not even the target population. One program trying to promote breast cancer awareness and early detection is The National Breast Cancer Foundation (1). For several reasons, The National Breast Cancer Foundation falls short and does not have an effective campaign. The first shortcoming comes directly from the mission of the program. The second is a result of their partnership with Self magazine. Lastly, they have an ineffective Casual Up program.


The mission of The National Breast Cancer Foundation has two objectives: first is education about breast cancer and second is provision of mammograms to those women in need. To accomplish this mission, they have laid out three means to reach the target, at risk population. One method is their Beyond the Shock educational video. The video is actually a tutorial of slides, covering thirteen overview topics, taking approximately forty-five minutes to watch. One of the first topics covered is the Risk Factors for breast cancer. The slide mentions that non-Hispanic Caucasian women are at higher risk than African – American women (2). This is a true statement, however it fails to mention that African – American women have the highest mortality rates out of any ethnic or racial group (3). This happens because African – American women tend to have their breast cancer diagnosed at later, more advanced stages when it has metastasized and there are fewer treatment options (4). Reasons for later diagnosis and treatment are a result of a few social factors including lack of health insurance, no follow up on abnormal tests or a belief that mammograms are not necessary (5). Issues such as this need to be address in the public health field, especially in visible campaigns such as The National Breast Cancer Foundation, however are often over looked and therefore reinforced within the African – American community.

In addition to neglecting African – American women, the video also leaves out the Latino women community. Like the African – American women, Latino women experience more aggressive types of breast cancer, which results in difficult treatment and higher mortality rates. Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer – related death in this population. It is speculated that environmental factors such as working on farms may be a cause of increased rate (6), as well as social factors such as low-income status affecting their means of receiving appropriate health care (7). Therefore, even though the incidence and mortality rates of breast cancer are lower in Hispanic women when compared to non-Hispanic Caucasian and African – American women, they have their own unique issues needing to be addressed.

The National Breast Cancer Foundation also tries to portray its mission through endorsement. This can be seen on the homepage of their website with a video message from Dr. Phil front and center encouraging women to go for yearly mammograms (8). Even though the Dr. Phil television show receives high viewer ratings, the use of Dr. Phil as a spokes person severely limits the target audience. When looking at the demographics of those who watch the Dr. Phil show, the age and gender are appropriate with 66% female, 38% between the ages of 35 – 49 years old and 30% at least 50 years old. However, the viewers are also 88% Caucasian (9), which is the population of least concern for under utilization for mammogram screenings (10).
The National Breast Cancer Foundation also promotes their mission through the use of an online community. Both women and men of any age can register; identify themselves as a patient, survivor, supporter, or provider; find support or ask questions; and they can share their stories (11). Having the main forum for support and information through an online resource also selectively targets a specific population, which is non-Hispanic Caucasian. Within this group, 59.9% have internet access. This is drastically reduced for African – Americans and Hispanics who both only have 36.0% of their population with access to the internet (12).

The use of and access to the internet is also segregated according to socioeconomic status. Within those with a higher socioeconomic status, approximately 60% will have access, whereas approximately 12% within the lower group will have access (13). The same trend can be see between socioeconomic status and those who go for mammogram screenings. Women with household earnings greater than $50,000 had 82.5% report having a mammogram within the past two years; conversely, women with house hold earnings less than $15,000 reported that 68.4% had received a mammogram within the past two year (14). This demonstrate the need for new ways to promote education and support to communities such as African – American and Hispanic women who are not being reached through the current means.

In an effort to reach more women and cover a wider domain of breast cancer topics, The National Breast Cancer Foundation partnered with Self magazine. The purpose is to allow those registered with The National Breast Cancer Foundation to have greater access to health information, how to donate to charity and how to make sure their money is well spent (15). This collaboration is, in theory, a great idea; Self magazine and are great resources for women to learn about having a proper diet, appropriate exercise regimes and other self improvement lessons. However, upon clicking the link to access the website or looking at the cover of the magazine, every image is one of a young, healthy non-Hispanic Caucasian woman (16). These images reflect Self’s ideal reader:
You're an active, educated, sophisticated woman who yearns to improve the quality of your life. You're interested in health, nutrition, money management, the mind-body-spirit connection, culture, fashion, psychology, fitness and the environment. If that describes you, then this is the magazine that will help you develop your untapped potential (17).

There is a narrow group who can identify with a statement such as this. When promoting breast cancer awareness, the target audience should be broad and encompassing, very different from this campaign. As mentioned before, it is the African – American and Hispanic women who are in greatest need for an intervention. If they were to come across this promotion, the majority would feel it does not apply to them. The prominent reason for failing to reach this group is because the campaign violates McGuire’s Communication / Persuasion Matrix, which focuses on the source, message and channel factors as a means of effectively reaching a group (18). The source refers to whom the message is coming from. The message reflects the core values being presented. The channel is the means of reaching the audience. As demonstrated in viewing the website and reading the description of the ideal reader of Self, the source of the message comes from non-Hispanic Caucasian women of higher socioeconomic status who are fashionable, educated and healthy. The core values of the message include nutrition, money – management and the environment. The channel of the message is through access to the internet or subscription to the magazine. It is clearly visible as to why African – American and Hispanic women cannot identify with the source of the message from Self magazine and The National Breast Cancer Foundation, no one looks like they do. Why would they feel this program would help them when the message is coming from a group visibly different than them? The core values of the message do not associate with the values of African – American or Hispanic women. The traditional values, which are held by African – American women, include communalism, such as the family and child centered, and spirituality (19), none of which can be found in the message from Self magazine. Within the values of Hispanic culture, the family is at the forefront and the mother is responsible for the home (20). These responsibilities become their focus and prominently include cooking and cleaning. Nutrition would fit within the values of the Hispanic woman, however because money – management and the environment are so far out of the scope of their daily lives that the connection will be lost. Lastly, the means to gain access to the benefits of Self are limiting. As previously mentioned, the women who are able to go online and login to the network (or The National Breast Cancer Foundation website) are those who are non-Hispanic Caucasian women in a higher socioeconomic bracket. This group is already going for regular mammogram screenings and living a generally healthier life-style. The women excluded from access are the African – American and Hispanic women, the group in need of screenings and healthier life-style information.

The last initiative of The National Breast Cancer Foundation is Casual Up. This program is designed to take “casual Fridays” in the work environment to raise money and awareness for breast cancer. It refers to casual Fridays as a time to boost employee morale and serve as a function to “increase education about the benefits of early detection and provide mammograms for those in need” (21). Casual Fridays have also become part of the norm for today’s youth, therefore campaigns involving this dress down day are automatically targeted to the young-professionals in our country (22). As a result, even though this campaign is beneficial for employers to take part in for the tax deductions and at the same time raise money for mammograms, the awareness is going towards the wrong demographic. Studies have shown that mammograms are on the rise in young professional women. Campaigns are now drawing attention through the use of young, healthy models promoting early detection (23). It can be understood why campaigns such as Casual Up are having an impact on young women when recent news headlines and medical websites covered Christina Applegate’s diagnoses of breast cancer at age 36 and her decision to have a double mastectomy (24, 25, 26). An occurrence such as Ms. Applegate’s is rare though and often cannot be prevented through screenings at a young age. Only 5% of all breast cancers occur in women under 40 years of age. Those that do occur in younger women are more difficult to detect as their breast tissue is much more dense (27). As a result, it is recommended that women under the age of 40 do not go for mammograms, but instead take part in regular self-breast examination (28). Therefore, despite a creative method, aimed at reaching a broader population, Casual Up may have greater shortcomings than benefits. The goal of raising money to provide mammograms to those in need is definitely needed. Regrettably, the group receiving their message from the campaign is already going for mammograms at too early of an age and should have its efforts focused elsewhere.

The National Breast Cancer Foundation, whose motto is “Help for Today, Hope for Tomorrow,” has great intentions of raising awareness and education in breast cancer and also providing a means of mammograms to women in need. Unfortunately, this message only reaches one, specific population and it fails to reach those women truly in need. The primary methods of execution through their Beyond the Shock video, early detection message from Dr. Phil and on-line community forum are only reaching women of high socioeconomic status who are non-Hispanic Caucasian. Similarly, their effort to reach more women and promote healthier life-styles through a partnership with Self magazine again leaves out African – American and Hispanic women who are in greater need of public health interventions for breast cancer. Finally, the Casual Up campaign, put on by The National Breast Cancer Foundation, has a target audience of women who are under 40 and already, unnecessarily going to mammogram screenings. If The National Breast Cancer Foundation were to look at their methods of spreading awareness through Multi – Level research, the flaws currently in place would become clear to them and allow for the development of more effective and diverse programs. Their programs rely on individual – level models, with the belief that providing information will compel women into action. It does not acknowledge the reasons certain groups, such as African – American and Hispanic women, have more aggressive tumors and high mortality rates when they are at lower risk. The multi – level model would demonstrate information such as lack of access to health care, lack of access to the internet, or even lack of a spokes person who this audience can identify with. The National Breast Cancer Foundation has the potential to be an essential tool of helping women; it just needs a new mode of reaching those who need their help.

The attempts and failings of public health interventions, such as The National Breast Cancer Foundation, give cause for a new perspective to be employed in order to find a solution. The NBCF has specific shortcoming with their implementation of a few programs, including the mission of the foundation, their partnership with Self magazine, and their Casual Up program. The primary issues resulting from these ineffective campaigns are 1) targeting non-Hispanic Caucasian women and neglecting African – American women, who have the highest mortality rates from breast cancer, 2) delivering a message through an inappropriate source, where the viewers cannot relate, and 3) reaching a subset of women who are too young and therefore preventive mammograms are non necessary and ineffective for.

A new intervention that promotes breast cancer screenings, especially for African – American women, needs to be developed. This intervention should be based on the Social Sciences in order to capture the underlying causes of discrepancy regarding the preventive measures used, and mortality rates occurring, for African – American women. An effective intervention would be similar to the Pepsi My Generation commercials. This works by displaying images reflective of a certain group. In the Pepsi commercial, the images spanned from the early 1900’s through to the 1980s, capturing images of youth, rebellion and communality. At the end of the commercial, the message of “Every generation refreshes the world, now it’s your turn. Pepsi.” (29) appears, providing the viewers with information bringing them together. This campaign works through Social Marketing Theory. The important concept behind the theory is market segmentation, which divides the population into significant subgroups in order to successfully delivery their message (30). The reason this is an effective campaign tool is because it allows the targeted subgroup to feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves; it is something they can associate with, feel an emotional connection to and remind them of the times when they were young, rebellious and connected to others because of these commonalities, which are values that are important to and resonant with most people.

By drawing on the methods used in the Pepsi My Generation commercial, a revised approach can be made in promoting preventive mammograms in an appropriate group of women. Similar to Pepsi, the commercial would have images and music reflective of an older population of women. The targeted women would be about forty years old as it has been shown that a women’s risk of developing breast cancer does not become significant until she is forty years old and that is the recommended age to start going for regular mammograms (31). Therefore, to capture the times of youth for women aged 40 through 85, the images should come from 1940s through the mid 1980s. The images should be reflective of all women, with some emphasis on African – American women, coming together, having fun, and being empowered. The end of the commercial would have a message, like Pepsi, telling women to band together, to hold on to the ideals of their youth and to go for their yearly mammograms. The commercial would then have a website to go to or a phone number to call for more information. By giving them the next step in action, it is more likely to “hook” the audience and be successful.

Having a television commercial is the most common means of reaching the population. Having ads in magazines is also widely used. An advertisement with one of the images displayed in the commercial and the message written on it would also be beneficial to the campaign. A specific magazine that should be utilized is Essence magazine (33) in order to target the African – American women. The reason this magazine has been chosen is because it was an effective tool in recruiting a large population of women to participate in the Black Women’s’ Health Study (32). By choosing this magazine, along with others to target specific groups of women, the campaign should successfully promote it’s message.

Becoming Inclusive
The first criticism of the NBCF program was the way it solely targeted non-Hispanic Caucasian women. This is a substantial problem as the women with the highest mortality rates are African – American women. Having a campaign promoting breast cancer awareness, but not including African – American women in the campaign is a form of institutionalized racism. The revised campaign, based on marketing theory from the social sciences, does not fall into the trap of excluding any groups, specifically African – American women. By utilizing resources such as Essence magazine, which already reaches out and connects with the target population, the campaign is able to get through to these women. Essence magazine is committed to understanding its audience and as a result commissioned a study to define the micro-demographics among black women (34). The study is designed to help effectively advertise for products sold to black women; however the ways the advertisements are designed should also be applied to public health campaigns. The six mini-demographics described represent different values and ideals that are held by different percentages of African – American women. By knowing what values to appeal to the more likely it is that the campaign will be successful, whether for a product or for public health.

Promoting with an appropriate source
The second criticism of the NBCF program was the delivery of their message from an inappropriate source. The messengers were only white women and therefore the African – American women, who are at the greatest risk for mortality from breast cancer, cannot relate to the message. This violates McGuire’s communication / persuasion matrix from the social sciences communications theory (35). This revised approach does not violate the communication / persuasion matrix through the images it displays of all types of women through the generations. The message is coming from someone who resembles the viewer, no matter her background. Every woman has a history and every woman has been a youth. Therefore, by capturing images of different women through out the designated time periods, this becomes an inclusive campaign for the target audience.

Reaching an older age group
The third criticism of the NBCF was due to the programs reaching an audience who should not yet be going for mammograms because they are still too young. The young audience occurred as a result of the Casual UP promotion in the work place. Attracting a younger population should not be an issue for the social science based intervention. By using images that only pertain to the target group’s youth, the images would not apply to younger women and therefore would not appeal to them in the same way. They might find the commercial or magazine ad interesting, but they will not feel the connection with it that the intended group of women, ages 40 and up, will feel. The intended group will have lived through the images shown and experienced the emotions associated with it. This should also be effective as it takes advantage of the social science’s framing theory which centers the message on the core values of the viewer in order to make it appealing (36). For this campaign, the values are reflective of the women’s youth and empowerment. This should trigger a connection to the commercial through shared experiences and subsequently should have positive results influencing these women to engage in preventive mammograms.
The methodology of the revised campaign should be effective in promoting preventive mammography to all women, but especially African – American women. The design of the campaign is group – level, rather than individual – level. This means it acknowledges that groups are different than a simple collection of individuals; it allows for groups of individuals to be effected at the same time; it accounts that behavioral decisions are dynamic and that people can change their mind instantaneously; and it acknowledges that behavior is irrational, not planned or reasoned.

This intervention does have limitations. It does not take into account funding for a campaign such as this. Perhaps if this were to be implemented by an existing program, the funding would be available. An ideal program to do this would be the Susan G. Komen Circle of Promise, which is designed to engage African – American women in their fight against breast cancer (37). Another limitation involves the higher – level factors that might also be preventing African – American women from participating in preventive mammography. One factor that may cause this is a distrust of the medical field within the community. This campaign does not account for this high – level factor, however by focusing on this group and finding a way to connect to these women, I believe it truly is a step in the right direction. Perhaps a pilot campaign should be tested on a group of African – American women to determine how they react and if it might be effective.

1 The National Breast Cancer Foundation.

2 Beyond The Shock: A step-by-step guide to understanding breast cancer.

3 Breast Cancer Fund, Prevention Starts Here Eliminating the Environmental Causes of Breast Cancer. Breast Cancer Incidence and Mortality by Race and Ethnicity. San Francisco, CA: Breast Cancer Fund.

4 Health Day, News for Healthier Living. Black Women at Higher Risk for More Aggressive Breast Tumors. ScoutNews, LLC.

5 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Minority Women’s Health, Breast Cancer.

6 Breast Cancer Fund, Prevention Starts Here Eliminating the Environmental Causes of Breast Cancer. Breast Cancer Incidence and Mortality by Race and Ethnicity. San Francisco, CA: Breast Cancer Fund.

7 Women Caring for Women. Latinas: Breast and Cervical Cancer.

8 The National Breast Cancer Foundation.

9 QuantCast. Dr. Phil. Quantified Publisher Program.

10 Callee, E. et al. Demographic Predictors of Mammography and Pap Smear Screening in US Women. American Cancer Society 1993; 83: 53-60.

11 National Breast Cancer Foundation. Join My NBCF.

12 US Census Bureau. Computer and Internet Use in the United States. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Commerce.

13 National Telecommunications and Information Administration. Falling Through the Net: Defining the Digital Divide. US Department of Congress,

14 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Breast Cancer Screening and Socioeconomic Status --- 35 Metropolitan Areas, 2000 and 2002. Atlanta, GA: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 2005.

15 National Breast Cancer Foundation. News Releases.

16 Self. New York, NY. Conde Nast Publications Inc.

17 Magazine Agent. Self.

18 Kreuter, M. et al. The Role of Culture in Health Communication. Annual Review of Public Health 2004; 25: 439 – 455.

19 University of Oregon. African Americans.

20 The Ohio State University. Understanding the Hispanic Culture. Columbus, OH. Family and Consumer Sciences.

21 National Breast Cancer Foundation. Casual Up.

22 Meredith, G., Schewe, C. and Karlovich, J. Defining Markets, Defining Moments, America’s 7 Generational Cohorts, Their Shared Experiences, and Why Businesses Should Care.

23 Kolata, G. IDEAS & TRENDS; Mammography Campaigns Draw In the Young and Healthy. The New York Times, 1993.

24 CNN. Christina Applegate: Why I Had a Double Mastectomy.

25 WebMD. Christina Applegate’s Mastectomy: FAQ.

26 abc NEWS. Exclusive: Appleate Underwent Breast Removal to Stop Cancer.

27 Cleveland Clinic. Breast Cancer in Young Women.

28 Author, Unknown. Young Women ‘Shouldn’t Seek Mammograms.’ The Sydney Morning Herald, 2008.

29 NCCNeon. Pepsi My Generation Spot.

30 Edberg, M. Essentials of Health Behavior, Social and Behavioral Theory in Public Health. Surbury, MA. 2007. (60-61)

31 Méndez, Jane. Boston University School of Medicine. April 15, 2009.

32 Essence Magazine

33 Cozier, Yvette. Boston University School of Public Health. February 25, 2009.

34Author, Unknown. Study identifies 6 micro-demographics among black women. Tapestry cultural threads of success. Rochester Hills, MI. 2006

35 Kreuter, M. et al. The Role of Culture in Health Communication. Annual Review of Public Health 2004; 25: 439 – 455.
36 Jablin, F., Putnam, L. Framing (88-89) in The New Handbook of Organizational Communication.
37 Susan G. Komen Circle of Promise

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Failure of the “Above the Influence” Campaign-Grace Yang

Despite the efforts of various anti-drug campaigns, there has been no change in the prevalence of youth drug use from 2005 to 2007 (1). The National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign attempted to combat youth drug use through its Above the Influence (ATI) initiative. This intervention uses TV, radio, print, and Web-based advertising to prevent and reduce youth drug use. ATI fails to accomplish its goal of reducing youth drug-use because it neglects social factors that are involved in youth behavior, disregards effective marketing strategies, and stigmatizes youth who use drugs.

An ATI advertisement that is entitled “Dog” shows a scenario where a young girl is in the kitchen and she hears someone call her name. She turns around and sees that it is her dog that is talking to her. Her dog expresses his disappointment in the fact that she smokes marijuana. In response to what her dog has said, the young girl looks like she feels overwhelmed with guilt because she failed to meet the expectations of her dog.

Another ATI commercial is called “Pony.” The advertisement shows three teenage boys walking in a field towards a horse. One teenager approaches the horse, pulls its tail, and gets kicked in the shin. The second boy does the same. The third teenager sees the pain that the other two are in and walks away as the adult narrator says, “You know a bad idea when you see one. Live above weed.”
The final example of an ATI advertisement is called “Achievements.” The commercial shows various happy teenagers saying things about themselves that they are proud of. However, they are actually things that people would normally be ashamed to admit. One teenager says that she received straight D’s. Another says that she made her mother cry. A different teenager says that he stole from his younger sister.

The ATI intervention wastes scarce resources by designing and implementing a campaign that fails on many levels. First, the campaign neglects to address social factors that influence health-related behavior. Second, it fails to use marketing techniques to induce behavioral change. Finally, it stigmatizes youth, creating another barrier to drug-free behavior. This paper will discuss these three aspects that result in the campaign’s failure.

Above the Influence Disregards Social Norms, Expectations, and Networks
The ATI campaign fails to change behavior because its advertisements do not address the importance of social norms, expectations, or networks. The behavior of large groups can be changed by understanding these important influences. This is especially true for adolescents. However, ATI fails to address behavior from these social perspectives, resulting in a weak and ineffective campaign.

Interventions must account for social norms, particularly when dealing with youth. Social norms are general rules that are understood and observed by a given group, community, or society (2). These include simple concepts that do not have severe consequences if people deviate from them, such as washing hands after using the bathroom. Other norms are more serious in nature, resulting in grave repercussions if broken, such as not driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Whether these rules are perceived as trivial or serious, social norms play a large role in people’s behavior. The norms of peers are especially important to youth. For example, adolescents are also more likely to use condoms if they believe that their peers use them (3). This shows that the normative behavior of peers influence the boundaries for acceptable behavior rather than individual beliefs and attitudes. Therefore, if public health campaigns change the perceived social norms regarding a certain behavior, their effectiveness would substantially increase. However, ATI disregards the impact that peer behaviors have on individual adolescent behavior.

Another important social influence is social expectations, which is defined as whether an individual’s social groups of influence approve or disapprove a behavior (3). The expectations of peers have been shown to greatly affect health-related behaviors. For example, youth who associated with deviant peers were more likely to be delinquent themselves and use drugs (4). Also, peer perceptions more strongly affected sexual behavior than parental monitoring (3). It is clear that the opinions of peers have a large influence on the behaviors of youth. Despite these findings, ATI rejects the importance of peer approval or disapproval and consequently fails to change youth drug-use behavior.

The ATI media campaign also fails to focus on social networks and its influence on behavior. Social networks are comprised of individuals who influence one another, such as family, friends, or co-workers. The nature of the relationships between people in social networks can have a great impact on the way that people behave. Each person in a social network has a particular role to fill when in a group setting (2). These roles are specific parts that people play when involved in group activities. For example, mothers, fathers, and children all play distinct roles in a family. Similarly, peers play a particular role in an adolescent’s social network. Certain roles are more influential than others, especially regarding health-related behaviors. Peer influence is a significant predictor of adolescent smoking, whereas parental influence has little effect (5). Moreover, the finding that condom use typically declines with age except among youth who perceive that most of their friends use condoms illustrates the powerful role that peer behavior can have on risk-reducing behavior (3).

Conducting formative research, which is research that is conducted before a program is designed and implemented, is an essential tool for creating an effective campaign. The roles of different people in the lives of youth must be researched prior to developing a campaign to better understand which social groups that have a greatest amount of influence. The developers of Florida’s anti-smoking campaign called “Truth” spent months researching and interviewing youth (6). This is one of the key elements that contributed to the success of the campaign. ATI clearly did not conduct enough formative research with youth because it fails to take into consideration the influential role of peers.

When addressing social norms and expectations, it is important to focus on the beliefs and opinions of individuals, rather than non-human beings. Similarly, an individual’s social network consists of people, not animals. Twenty five percent of the current ATI advertisements depict a conversation regarding drug use between an individual and a non-human character. The ATI advertisement called “Dog” is an example of the campaign’s ignorance of the social factors that influence their target population. The scenario depicted in the advertisement is unrealistic and likely to have no effect on drug use, or more likely to have unintended consequences (i.e., increase the probability that adolescents will try or continue to use illicit drugs) (7). Failing to highlight the importance of social factors in decision making results in an ineffective or even counter effective intervention.

Above the Influence Fails to Market Anti-Drug Behavior to Youth
The ATI campaign fails to utilize key components of social marketing to appeal to adolescents. Marketing is a process in which two or more parties each have something to exchange. On one side of the exchange is the party that promotes and sells a product. On the other side are consumers who pay a price to buy the product (8). Marketing is a novel strategy that should be utilized in public health interventions aimed at behavior change. In order to successfully market a product, formative research must be conducted to better understand the targets population’s preferences and needs (9,10). The developers of the ATI campaign failed to thoroughly understand which benefits the target audience values the most. Therefore, they were unsuccessful in creating a desirable product that provides those benefits.

One of the key elements of marketing is the product, which refers to the behavior that is being promoted (8). Product also refers to the benefits associated with the behavior (10). ATI fails to present anti-drug behavior as a product. Rather, it merely presents it as a means for healthier living. Packaging health-related behavior as a valued product that the target population is willing to purchase is a more effective way to induce behavioral change (11).

Price is another key element of marketing. This refers to the costs of adopting a certain behavior. Even in a voluntary exchange, there is a price for a new behavior (9). Price often entails intangible costs, such as embarrassment and decreased pleasure associated with denying drug use. There is also a psychological cost related to change, especially when altering habits. ATI ignores the sacrifices that teenagers make when they decide to be drug-free. These sacrifices include being alienated and losing friends. A constricted social network can be a serious cost to adolescents, but ATI fails to address these costs, rendering the campaign ineffective.

Another aspect of marketing that makes it such a successful strategy is that it puts the decision making in the hands of the consumers. This is especially relevant when the target population is youth because freedom and autonomy are core values that they highly regard. Formative research shows that youth do not want to be told what to do (6). They want to make their own decisions and any threats to their independence is likely to result in rebellion. The success of Florida’s anti-smoking campaign, called “Truth,” is attributed largely to the fact that it marketed anti-smoking behavior as a desirable product. But it was also successful because it had a message other than “don’t.” The goal of marketing is to influence a target population, while allowing them to voluntarily adopt the health behavior that is promoted. What makes marketing so powerful is that the population is in full control of the decision making process. Rather than trying to sell a certain behavior change to youth, ATI advertisements tell them to adopt it. They remove the element of freedom, which is an ineffective way to influence adolescents. For example, the Partnership for a Drug Free America produced anti-drug public service announcements with “just say no” messages, which had a negative effect on drug use (7). The ATI commercial called “Pony” is an advertisement that would result in a similar negative reaction in youth. The tone of this message is one of authority, which is likely to evoke a rebellious response in teenagers in an attempt to preserve their autonomy. The commercial has the potential to cause youth to try drugs in an act of rebellion because the advertisement essentially tells them not to use drugs because it is a bad idea. This demonstrates the ineffectiveness of telling youth what to do, as opposed to providing them with tools and allowing them to make the decision on their own.

The Above the Influence campaign fails to provide youth with new information and allow them to utilize the information that is presented to make their own decisions. Marketing is a proven way to induce behavioral change by allowing target populations to make healthier decisions on their own. This strategy is especially effective on youth because autonomy is so important to them. However, ATI disregards the power of marketing and the value that youth place on autonomy, thereby creating a fruitless campaign.

Above the Influence Stigmatizes Youth for Their Drug Use
ATI overlooks the negative impact that stigmatizing youth has on their behavior. Negatively labeling youth for their drug use is counterproductive because it creates a barrier for behavioral change. Even when youth had different opinions about smoking, there was an overwhelming consensus regarding their abhorrence for anti-tobacco efforts that pass judgment on tobacco users (6). This shows that ATI is not only ineffective, but counterproductive in their efforts to decrease youth drug use. Youth’s strong aversion to stigmatization makes them more likely to continue or start a behavior, rather than prevent or change an existing behavior, in response to negative labeling. Therefore, ATI fails in its attempt to change behavior by utilizing stigmatization.

The ATI intervention is also counterproductive because of the negative emotional effects that stigma has on vulnerable populations. In the context of ATI, vulnerable populations include youth who already use drugs. The effect of stigma on people with mental illnesses highlights the detrimental effect of stigma. One of the most adverse effects of the stigma of mental illness is that it leads many afflicted with such illnesses to believe that they are failures or have little to be proud of. A fear of rejection by others can have serious negative consequences, such as more constricted social networks, poorer life satisfaction, and unemployment. As a result, self-esteem is negatively affected and many people with mental illnesses conclude that they are less capable than others (12). Moreover, stigma is a barrier for individuals with depression to adhere to treatment regimens. Compliance with antidepressant drug therapy is predicted by levels of perceived stigma (13). Individuals with mental illness experience such high levels of social stigma that the Surgeon General emphasizes the importance of reducing stigma as a barrier to improved health outcomes (12). The influence of stigma is so strong that it diminishes self esteem and outweighs the therapeutic value of taking medication. For these reasons, ATI’s use of stigmatization is counterproductive in their attempt to prevent and stop youth drug use.

Stigma is also a reason that people fail to disclose their HIV-positive status. There are salubrious advantages of disclosing one’s HIV-positive status. First, an individual who is HIV positive can reduce potential infections of sexual partners, consequently preventing the spread of the virus, by disclosing their HIV positive status (14). Second, disclosure is also a means to receive social support to facilitate coping with the disease process (15). However, disclosure can also lead to stigma and shame (16). The traumatizing power of stigma associated with HIV overrides the healthy effects of disclosure (17). Clearly, stigma has a strong influence on health behavior. Despite the advantages of disclosing one’s HIV-positive status, the fear of stigma is so overpowering that it negates the benefits of disclosure.

The ATI campaign’s attempt to prevent and reduce drug use is futile because it utilizes stigmatization to reach this goal. Stigma is shown to have detrimental effects in people who have mental illnesses and are HIV-positive. Stigma causes those with mental illnesses to feel less worthy than others, exacerbating their condition. It also prevents people with depression from adhering to their medication regimen. Lastly, stigma creates barriers for people who are HIV-positive to make healthier decisions for themselves. Another example of stigmatization is seen in the ATI “Achievements” advertisement, which negatively labels youth who use drugs as poor students, cruel to their parents, and deceitful to younger siblings who look up to them. Stigmatizing youth for their drug use will only lower their value of self-worth, creating further barriers to behavior change. This use of stigmatization is detrimental to the campaign’s goals of reducing youth drug use.


The ATI campaign fails in its attempt to prevent and reduce youth drug use because it overlooks key components for successful behavior change. The campaign disregards key social factors that influence health-related behavior. It also fails to use marketing strategies to sell drug-free behavior to youth. Rather, it poses a threat to their autonomy by dictating their decisions. Lastly, the content of the messages is counterproductive because it stigmatizes youth, which creates a barrier to behavior modification. Media campaigns are promising means to induce large scale behavioral changes. However, the ATI campaign fails to take advantage of the potential that the mass media has to influence healthier behaviors in youth. ATI dismisses the growing evidence in the literature from various fields that provides strategies for effective interventions. Consequently, it misuses valuable resources to create an intervention that fails on multiple levels.

“Unhooked”: Counter-Proposal to the “Above the Influence” Campaign

Unhooked: Alternative Anti-Drug Intervention

The Above the Influence (ATI) campaign attempts to prevent and reduce youth drug-use. However, it fails on many levels because it does not address important influential social factors, neglects effective marketing strategies, and stigmatizes youth who use drugs. This paper proposes a novel intervention, called Unhooked, to counter the failings of ATI.

Unhooked is a web-based campaign that addresses adolescent drug use from a social and behavioral science perspective. This intervention is superior to ATI for three reasons. First, it approaches behavior from a social context by incorporating the influence of peer groups. Second, the intervention utilizes marketing strategies to promote drug-free behavior as a desirable product. In order to effectively advertise and promote the product, it takes advantage of various media outlets frequently used by youth, such as Facebook, MySpace, and YouTube. Third, the content presented in the intervention is thoughtfully developed in order to avoid stigmatization.

This campaign is comprised of five main components: (1) web groups, (2) a media library, (3) gear, (4) fact sheets, (5) and forums. Web groups are online “clubs” that are led by peer leaders of the target population. Peer leaders are youth who demonstrate leadership skills and have a significant influence over the target population. Leaders create a web group for each of their schools in order to serve as a community of support for those who want to be drug-free. This creates a special social network of youth who are committed to being drug-free. The Unhooked media library consists of videos and commercials created by youth and advertising professionals to decrease the allure of drug use. Commercial topics include the difficulties of saying no to drugs and the social consequences of doing so. Gear is an essential component of the intervention because it facilitates the promotion of drug-free behavior by creating a brand that is easily identified and consequently desired by youth. Lastly, the educational element, comprised of fact sheets and an educational forum, provides youth with information about drug use so that they can make an informed decision about their behavior.

Unhooked Addresses Social Influences Associated with Youth Drug Use
The Unhooked campaign incorporates peer norms and expectations because social factors play important roles in youth behavior. The influence of peers is one of the most prevalent risk factors for early onset or increased substance use during adolescence (18). A key strength of the Unhooked intervention is that it addresses peer norms, a powerful influence on adolescent health-related behavior. Norms that encourage drug use result in greater rates of youth substance use (19). Expectations, which encourage or discourage drug use, also influence adolescent substance use. When teenagers’ peers use drugs and expectations for drug-use increase, teens are more likely to use drugs (20,21). For these reasons, it is necessary to acknowledge the effect of social norms and expectations on youth behavior and address drug use with this phenomenon in mind.

Web groups are a means to create social norms and expectations that deter adolescents from using drugs. They also provide a social network for youth who are already drug-free or would like to be drug-free. Having peer leaders create these groups is an effective strategy to reduce drug use because smoking prevention programs led by peers were successful in reducing adolescent smoking onset rates (22). School health education programs led by peers were as effective or more effective than programs led by adult leaders (23). Peer leaders who advocate for drug-free behavior change social norms and expectations that encourage and accept drug use to those that discourage it. This creates a shift in the perceived normative behavior of youth and provides a network of support for youth who would like to be drug-free. Therefore, web groups led by peers are effective means of compelling youth to change their behavior.

Unhooked Markets Anti-Drug Behavior
Marketing has been used in various fields for decades as a powerful tool to evoke behavioral change. However, public health professionals have yet to incorporate this effective strategy into their interventions. Unlike ATI, Unhooked uses components of marketing to reach its target population. Adolescents are often the target of advertising and marketing efforts because they are easily persuaded and influenced by their messages (24). Youth who were exposed to more alcohol advertisements consumed higher amounts of alcohol on average than those who saw fewer advertisements. Youth in high advertisement environments also increased their alcohol consumption into their late 20’s, while alcohol consumption for youth in low advertisement environments leveled off (25). This illustrates the persuasive and lasting effects of marketing on health-related behaviors.

Marketing is a prevailing force on youth behavior. For this reason, Unhooked integrates marketing strategies into its anti-drug campaign. This intervention uses the internet to disseminate media messages about drug-use. The videos and commercials can be easily accessed on the Unhooked website, and on social networking websites that youth frequently use, namely Facebook, MySpace, and YouTube. The Unhooked media library is created by youth so that drug-free behavior is advocated from the perspective of peers, rather than adults. This minimizes any negative reactions that youth may have against authority and decreases the likelihood of unintended consequences, such as rebellious drug use. The media clips demonstrate the costs of adopting a drug-free lifestyle, such as potential alienation from friends who use drugs. The videos and advertisements show that although youth may lose friends in their social network, there are still countless youth who commend and support their decision to reject drugs.

Unhooked also promotes healthy drug-free behavior through its line of various gear, including bracelets, notebooks, and t-shirts. Unhooked takes advantage of branding, a strategy that creates a set of positive associations with a product. The LIVESTRONG Global Cancer Campaign is a well-recognized campaign that has effectively used gear to brand their efforts for cancer control. Using gear as promotional items marked with the Unhooked logo creates a positive relationship with youth, which results in brand awareness and preference (24). This often leads to brand loyalty, which leads them to desire the product of drug-free behavior. This is a clever tool used by the marketing industry that should also be used in public health interventions.

Unhooked Incorporates Non-Stigmatizing Content
Interventions with stigmatizing content are counter-productive because stigma creates barriers to behavior change. Stigma precludes those living with depression and a positive HIV status from engaging in healthy behavior (11-16). Similarly, the stigma of being overweight and focusing on negative body images deters some youth from losing weight (26). Formative research conducted with youth show that rather than being judged for their behavior, youth want facts to make their own decisions (6). Therefore, it is important that public health professionals pay close attention to the content of their intervention’s message.

Unhooked uses caution when creating the messages that are conveyed to youth about drug use. It is essential that the tone is non-judgmental and the message does not contain stigmatizing content. Because youth are prone to negatively react to stigma, the Unhooked website refrains from incorporating negative labeling into the content of its intervention. This is accomplished by staff members who regulate and remove stigmatizing content that may be posted on the website by the public. This is done strictly to uphold the positive and safe online environment that Unhooked creates for youth. Instead of using to stigma to try to effect behavioral change, Unhooked provides youth with educational tools to receive information and advice about drugs. The website has fact sheets about various illicit drugs and the effects of drug use. There is also an educational forum where youth can ask health professionals any questions they may have about substance use. If there are any question about drugs or behaviors that the fact sheets do not answer, youth are welcome to ask health care providers for additional information. An advantage of using the forum to inquire about the consequences of drug use is that youth can remain anonymous when posting questions to minimize any feelings of stigmatization from peers or the online community.

Youth drug-use is an individual and societal level problem that must be confronted with innovative strategies. Unhooked is a novel alternative to ATI, which fails to decrease rates of risky youth behavior. Unhooked addresses the three key failures of the ATI campaign. First, it addresses the social influences that impact youth behavior by facilitating web-based social networking. Second, it uses marketing techniques to sell drug-free behavior as a desirable product by using media and gear as promotional tools. Third, it contains non-stigmatizing content that informs youth about drug use so that they can make an educated decision on their own. Understanding the target population is a primary strength of the Unhooked intervention, which is based on social and behavioral theory. In order to decrease the prevalence of youth drug-use, it is necessary to stop wasting resources on ATI and implement Unhooked.


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Winning the War against STIs: Why Public Health Interventions have failed to reduce STI rates among Adolescents- Oluwakemi Olukoya

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) remain a major public health problem in the United States. The CDC estimates that approximately 19 million new infections occur each year and almost half of the infections occur among young people 15-24 years of age. Though several public health campaigns have been conducted to curb the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STD) among adolescents, the rate of STDs continues to soar. The failure of these campaigns can be linked to their reliance on traditional health behavior models which have limited ability to change behavior. The traditional health models are limited by their individualistic approach to change behaviors and by their assumption that individuals have mastery and control over decision making and behavior change.

An example of a public health campaign which is based on traditional health behavior models is the It’s Your (Sex) Life (IYSL) national campaign. IYSL is an ongoing partnership of MTV and the Kaiser Family Foundation to help young people make responsible decisions about their sexual health (1). IYSL campaign has distinguished itself from other public health campaigns by winning the Emmy and Peabody award for public information campaign on HIV/AIDS, other sexually transmitted diseases and related sexual health issues. In addition, the recent extension of IYSL partnership with Planned Parenthood Federation of America to promote the GYT (Get Yourself Tested) campaign- aimed at removing the taboos surrounding STD testing- through celebrities seems promising. Despite the above strengths of the IYSL campaign, its’ message, based on traditional health behavior change models (Health Belief Model and Social Learning Theory), has limited ability to change adolescents risky sexual behaviors to preventive behaviors. This article critically reviews the It’s Your (Sex) Life national campaign and presents three arguments which explain the limitations of the IYSL from the perspective of social and behavioral sciences.

I.) Health Belief Model
By using the Health Belief Model, It’s Your (Sex) Life campaign presumes that by promoting ads which emphasize on the consequences and statistics of sexually transmitted diseases, an individual will perceive his susceptibility to acquiring STD and perceive the severity of STD on his life; thus he would rationally weigh the benefits of not engaging in risky sexual behaviors to barriers which leads to intention and safe sex practices. For example, one ad featured a lady instructing a “teenage girl” to break up immediately with her boyfriend who refused to use a condom because she is at risk of contracting HIV.

Though the ad provides factual information, studies have shown that early prevention efforts that involved providing factual information about HIV/AIDS to promote safer sexual practices among adolescents and young adults were not strongly correlated with preventive behaviors(2). Thus, knowledge is necessary but not sufficient for HIV/AIDS risk reduction (2; 3). In addition, findings from various studies(4) that applied the HBM to promote preventive sexual behaviors among heterosexual college students have been inconsistent and provided only partial support for the model. Overall, perceived barriers (to condom use) received the most consistent support as a significant predictor of engaging in preventive behaviors (5). The fact that the extension components of the HBM did not significantly increase the prediction of condom use among college students may reflect the limitations of the HBM in promoting protective behaviors (5).

Furthermore, there is a wider social context within which individuals must circulate such as families and communities, which in turn affect the individuals’ decisions and behavior. HBM does not account for such social and environmental factors. (6) The HBM focus on individual-level factors and its’ reliance on the individual’s ability to make rational decisions and develop intention (7) to engage in protective behaviors constitute a major weakness of this approach. Intention does not always lead to behavior and human actions are mostly irrational. Also, HBM does not take into account the spontaneous activity that characterizes much of human behavior (7)

II.) Self-efficacy versus Self-control
IYSL draws from SLT by promoting self-efficacy. The IYSL campaign assumes that by instructing adolescents to take charge of their sex life by being in control and making smart choices, adolescents will be empowered and thus develop self-efficacy to practice safer sex. However, this assumption is false because individuals lack self-control over their actions due to other influences.

Studies indicate that patterns of social cognitive development in adolescence vary as a function of the content under consideration and the emotional and social context in which the reasoning occurs (8). Adolescents’ reasoning about real-life problems is not as advanced as their reasoning about hypothetical dilemmas (9) (e.g. a female practicing negotiation of condom use in a non-aroused state versus an aroused state). Adolescents’ when faced with a logical argument are more likely to accept faulty reasoning or shaky evidence when they agree with the substance of the argument than when they do not. (10-11). In other words, adolescents’ social reasoning, like that of adults, is influenced not only by their basic intellectual abilities, but by their desires, motives and interests (12).

Behavioral data have made it appear as though adolescents are poor decision-makers (i.e. their high-rates of participation in dangerous activities, automobile accidents, drug use and unprotected sex) however, there is substantial evidence that adolescents engage in dangerous activities despite knowing and understanding the risks involved (13-15). Thus, in real-life situations, adolescents do not simply rationally weigh the relative risks and consequences of their behavior – their actions are largely influenced by feelings and social influences (16). In addition, research has shown that sexual motivation can distort judgments on the risk of contracting sexually transmitted disease (17). Results from a study suggests that arousal does not change an individual’s general knowledge about the risks of unprotected sex, but when it comes to concrete steps involving condoms, sexual arousal changes one’s perceptions of the tradeoffs between benefits and disadvantages in a fashion that decreases the tendency to use them. (18)

III.) Social Determinants
IYSL campaign fails to account for diverse array of factors influencing adolescents’ risk taking behavior (Figure 1). Such factors include familial characteristics such as parental support, peer influence, school environment, community, socioeconomic status, racial disparities and societal factors such as media exposure (19). IYSL campaign may have no influence on adolescents who do not belong to a stable and supportive family system. Families provide role models, shape sexual attitudes, set standards for sexual conduct, control and monitor adolescents’ behaviors. Parental monitoring is associated with older ages of sexual initiation, smaller numbers of sexual partners and more consistent contraceptive use, all of which suggest lower STD risk (20). Thus how will the IYSL campaign account for teenagers, particularly homeless teens, who do not have family support and are predisposed to engage in risky behaviors?

In addition, though IYSL campaign used teenagers to promote its’ message to other teens, the campaign failed to recognize the power of group dynamics in shaping an adolescent decision with regards to which norms to abide to. Peer norms surrounding sexual behaviors and condom use have been shown to be major influences on both risky and protective sexual behavior. When adolescents perceive that friends and similar-aged teens engage in risky sexual behavior, even if their perception is skewed, then they are more likely to adopt those same behaviors (19). IYSL campaign needs to be more strategic in using teenagers in its’ ads in promoting safe sex practices rather than showing teenagers who are willing to adopt condom use because of the consequences of acquiring STDs.

The IYSL campaign failed to take full advantage of the effect of school environment on sexual risk taking behaviors. In one ad, a Professor told a group students that “there is hardly any healthy sexual relations…… they should learn to stop and have a conversation” about sex. Through this ad, IYSL campaign assumes that students have self-control and schools are a good place to let adolescents know they can take charge of their sex life. Though schools play a vital role in sex education, how does IYSL account for other aspects of school social environment associated with risky sexual behaviors? School structural attributes affect norms and attitudes about dating practices and sexual behaviors (21). Studies of the effects of school characteristics on sexual risk-taking behaviors found that racial composition and school type (public or private) are associated with age at first intercourse and number of sexual partners (22). Compared to private schools, teenagers in public schools have a higher STD risk. (21-22).

In addition, IYSL campaign failed to take into consideration racial differences in an ad which lead to counterproductive responses from adolescents. In the commercial, a white teenage girl refused to have sex with a black teenage boy because he did not have a condom to use. Though the ad was trying to tell adolescent females to be firm in their decision of practicing safe sex, the public interpreted it as her being a racist as illustrated by several comments on You Tube. This commercial also failed to use effective communication principles by ensuring a similar group was used as the source of message to the receiving group. The media plays a significant role in socialization of adolescents and therefore impacts their sexual risk and protective behavior. For example, studies have found that greater exposure to rap music videos and X-rated movies were associated with having multiple sex partners, more frequent sexual intercourse, and testing positive for an STD (23, 24). It is ironic that MTV, partners of IYSL campaign, hopes to promote protective sexual behaviors while they show more of music videos promoting sexual activity.

Overall, we cannot hope to optimize changes in adolescents’ sexual behavior without addressing the broad range of factors that influence adolescents’ decision-making process and, in turn, their likelihood of engaging in risky sexual behavior (24).

In order to achieve greater success, “It’s Your (Sex) Life” campaign must move beyond the traditional health behavior models- focused on individual level factors. Merely examining individual-level determinants in isolation provides a limited perspective on a complex issue and, furthermore, precludes a more in-depth understanding of how higher-level variables (e.g., family, peers, school, community, and society) may be independently associated with STD risk behaviors in the presence of other individual-level factors (19). Thus, while efficacious in promoting the adoption of STD/HIV-preventive behaviors in the near-term, individual-level interventions appear to be insufficient in sustaining newly adopted preventive behavior changes over protracted periods of time (19). What is needed is a complementary approach that addresses these multiple spheres of influence and adopts alternative health behavior change models capable of changing people’s behavior en masse to the desired or protective health behavior.

Section 2

To address the problem of rising STD’s rates among adolescents, I propose an intervention/strategy that promotes condom use at a group level by utilizing the following alternative health behavior models: marketing (social marketing) and framing theories.

Marketing is defined by the American Marketing Association as the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large. Social marketing is the systematic application of marketing strategies along with other concepts and techniques to achieve specific behavioral goals for a social good. Social marketing seeks to influence social behaviors and to benefit the target audience, the general society and not the marketer.(26)
The defining features of social marketing emanate from marketing’s conceptual framework and includes exchange theory, audience segmentation, competition, “the marketing mix,” consumer orientation and continuous monitoring. (27)
Framing comes from cognitive science, which defines a frame as a conceptual structure involved with thinking.(28) Frames are a composition of elements—visuals, values, stereotypes, messengers— which together trigger an existing idea. Frames tell us what a communication message is about. They signal to us what to pay attention to (and what not to), and they set up a pattern of reasoning that influences decision. Framing, therefore, is a translation process between incoming information and the pictures in our heads (29)

Intervention: Ignite Campaign- bringing out the fire in you

This intervention builds on the growing evidence which indicate that promoting pleasure in condom use, alongside safer sex messaging, can increase the consistent use of condoms and the practice of safer sex.(30) Ignite campaign aims to reduce STD’s rate by increasing the consistent use of condoms among sexually active adolescents. It aims to achieve this by reframing the use of condoms as being pleasurable rather than a just a protection “tool” from sexually transmitted diseases; also by using effective marketing strategies to spread its’ message.

Components of the Intervention

1) Form partnership with a condom manufacturing company in order to make Ignite pleasure condoms.

2) Use strategic adverts to reframe condoms as being pleasurable. I created two commercials which use pleasurable activities (dancing, and going to the beach) to appeal to core values (such as attractiveness, pleasure, vitality, sex) which adolescents value more than health.

Commercial One:
Several teens are gathered in an arena to watch a Salsa dance competition (illustrated by showing contestants (adolescents) with their partners (male and female) wearing salsa dance costumes)
Scene: Presenter of the show: Let’s welcome our final contestants for the night
(The crowd cheers)
Two teams come on stage and as the salsa music plays both teams start dancing.
Team 2: The female partner suddenly stops dancing…..she tells her partner “I can’t continue dancing… wrist hurts severely”. Her partner smiles and brings out a pack of Ignite condom (she smiles), he opens the condom pack and ties it around her wrist. Immediately vibrant salsa music plays, team 2 does amazing dance steps and wins the competition. At the end of the commercial, Ignite condom- bringing out the fire in you is displayed.

Commercial two:
Four teenage boys sitting on the beach suddenly get excited when four attractive females walk up to them. The boys stare so hard that “fire” comes out of their eyes. Each of the girls show the boys a box of ignite condom…..strangely the boxes become “alive”, grow so big and each female enters the box. Happily each boy grasps one Ignite condom box.

The two commercials use the power of visual imagery to frame the message. Imagery in brand marketing helps to create the external ideal (e.g. a figure, image or symbol that embodies socially desirable characteristics). Thus an individual will aspire to close the gap between his or her own self image and the idealized external image (e.g. Ignite condom brands).

3) Spread the message via a multi-channel approach by using a combination of traditional media channels, including TV, radio, print (billboards, celebrity, sports and other youth magazines), and new media such as internet websites (blogs, download materials, videos, games, celebrity and Ignites’ own website), E-mail services, Social networks (Facebook, Myspace), Youtube, Desktop agents, mobile phone texting and placing ads on other hand held computing devices.

4) Organize community based events such as concerts, cultural festivals, fairs where free Ignite condoms can be distributed. Distribution can be extended to recreational centers, school health centers, summer camps, hair salons etc. Flyers that have the logo of Ignite and the picture of the star couple in the Salsa dance ad will be distributed. Also, members of the community will be engaged in advocacy for the provision of sufficient resources (e.g. comprehensive adolescent health centers) for adolescent health.

5) Regular evaluation of the campaign to gauge the responses of the target audience to all aspects of the intervention, from the broad marketing strategy to specific messages and materials.

Argument: Why the Ignite campaign is better than It’s Your (Sex) Life campaign
1.) Strength of the alternative health theories over the health belief model
Unlike the HBM that relies completely on individual level factors to change behavior, the alternative health models utilize the group phenomenon to change people’s behaviors en masse. Groups are not just a collection of individuals; they have certain characteristics which individuals tend to adopt. For example, though an adolescent may not want to engage in risky sexual behaviors, when he/she perceives that friends and similar-aged teens engage in risky sexual behavior, then he/she is more likely to adopt those same behaviors (19). The alternative health theories do not focus on predicting individual behavior rather they take advantage of the predictable group “mentality” (the herd mentality) to change an entire group at the same time. The Ignite campaign uses effectively two alternate health theories (Framing and Marketing) which have been proven to yield desirable results in the commercial and political sector. There is substantial evidence that social marketing is effective in changing health behaviors on a population level (31). The VERB campaign, It’s what you do, promoted by the CDC is a good example of how social marketing can change health behavior at a group level. Marketing alters the environment to make the recommended health behavior more advantageous than the unhealthy behavior it is designed to replace (27).

The Ignite campaign uses the framing theory to appeal to other core values (sex, attractiveness, pleasure) more compelling to adolescents than health as used by the IYSL and other public health campaigns. Framing an issue on core values more important to individuals (level 1) is vital because they are the ones that connect to individuals in the deepest way (29) which can trigger the ‘jolt’ necessary for instantaneous behavior change. According to Lakoff (1996), people’s support or rejection of an issue will largely be determined by whether they can identify and connect with the Level 1 values rather than the minute details of issues (e.g. statistics of sexually transmitted diseases) which may “crowd’ level 1 core values and make the campaign message ineffective. The national Truth campaign used the framing theory to appeal to the rebellious core value of adolescents. By successfully framing non-smoking as being rebellious and promoting a teen focused “counter marketing” brand, Truth campaign was able to account for 22 percent of the decline in adolescent smoking prevalence from 25.3% to 18.0% from 200-2002. (32)

2.) Self control
Unlike the IYSL campaign which assumes that adolescents have self control over their actions and can take charge of their sex life, the Ignite campaign takes cognizance of the fact that people have difficulty with self control and their social reasoning is influenced not only by their basic intellectual abilities, but by their desires, motives and interests (12). In addition, the alternative health models used in the Ignite campaign take advantage of the fact that human behavior is influenced by expectations, predictably irrational and not planned. For example, there are “seasons” in the stock market when investors (skilled and unskilled) “rush” to buy a particular stock at unreasonable high prices because such companies have strategically raised the expectations of consumers (via branding, framing and marketing theories) and taken advantage of the predictable irrational “herd” mentality. Similarly, by successfully associating the Ignite condom brands with the core values (sex, attractiveness and pleasure) that appeal to adolescents, the Ignite campaign can take advantage of adolescents lack of self control (which contributes to risky behaviors) and predictable irrational behavior in order to increase the use of Ignite condoms. Trust campaign, conducted by the U.S.-based Population Services International (PSI) promoted an HIV/AIDS prevention social marketing campaign that was effective in reaching adolescents and young adults in Kenya. The Trust campaign promoted the social desirability of condom use by making condom use seem cool. Studies show that the campaign increased adolescents and young adult awareness of the Trust condom brand and increased condom use among those with repeated exposure to the brand. (33)

It is important to note that while the commercial marketing strategies benefit the marketer, the social marketing strategy used by Ignite campaign benefits the target audience and the society at large by reducing STD rates and its consequences. In addition, by actually making pleasurable condom packs, Ignite campaign is not deceiving the target audience.

3.) Social Determinants

Though the Ignite campaign may not be able to address all the societal factors that influence adolescents’ behaviors, it offers a more comprehensive approach for addressing these factors than the IYSL campaign. Firstly, because adolescents are increasingly less subject to parental influence and more subject to peer and media influence (31), there is a dire need for public health professionals to promote media campaigns that can influence adolescents. Campaigns that appeal to the core values of adolescents are more influential than campaigns which emphasize on the negative consequences of acquiring STD’s. The use of negative messaging (“don’t do this behavior”) counters the rebellious core value of adolescents. Adolescents rebel against external restrictions on their independence and self-control (31), thus they develop opposing reactions to negative — “don’t do it” —messages. For example adolescent boys who associate displeasure strongly with condom use are likely to rebel against outside forces who try to “impose” condom use on them without offering them an immediate, tangible, gratifying and valuable exchange that will not make them feel a loss. Thus by reframing condom use as pleasurable and using ads that do not counter the rebellious nature of adolescents and appeals to their other core values (pleasure, attractiveness, sex), the Ignite campaign has superiority in using the media to influence adolescents’ behaviors than the IYSL campaign. The success of the Trust campaign in increasing condom use by framing condom use as being cool, illustrates the power of branded messages that convey positive behavioral alternatives for young people (33).

Secondly, through the extensive use of multi-channels by the Ignite campaign, the campaign is capable of fighting the “battle” against other media and marketing exposures that can promote risky health behaviors. The VERB campaign, It’s what you do, is an excellent example of a public health campaign that used several multi channels to reach its target population. The VERB advertising and promotions reached “tweens” in their homes, schools, and in their communities. The primary vehicle was paid advertising in the general market and in ethnic media channels. The VERB made use of TV, radio channels, print advertising in dozens of youth publications, websites, social networks (Facebook, MySpace) and other media agents such as text messages. Evaluation of the VERB campaign showed that as these same children became more aware of VERB, they engaged in more free-time physical activity sessions. The average 9-to 10-year old youth who were aware of VERB engaged in 34 percent more free-time physical activity sessions per week than did 9- to 10-year-old youths who were unaware of the campaign. (31)

Thirdly, the Ignite campaign also offers a comprehensive approach to promoting preventive behaviors through its outreach to the communities and school based centers. In addition, by involving community members in advocacy for provision of comprehensive adolescent centers, the Ignite campaign takes advantage of the “power” of social marketing in affecting policy makers through the media to frame public debate in support of enacting health policies; thus by influencing policy makers, they can address the broader social and environmental determinants of health (27).

The alternative health behavior models (Framing and Social Marketing Theories) used by the Ignite campaign have the potential to promote preventive sexual behaviors among adolescents; and thus reduce STD rates. Public health professionals need to abandon the “myth” that using such strategies to promote healthy behaviors is manipulative and unethical. It is time for public health campaigns/interventions to look beyond the traditional health models which have failed to curb STD rates among adolescents. The Ignite campaign provides a strong model that can be used to win the war against sexually transmitted diseases.

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