Developing Prevention Messages that Can Work

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Prevention campaigns are often seen as the answer to addressing substance use in the community. They are visible, wide-reaching, and often meet the requirement to “do something about the substance use problem!” But just as often, campaigns can fail to produce the outcomes that are needed. Among those studied over the past 20 years, the most effective have involved smoking prevention in the U.S., while the most extensive anti-drug campaign in the U.S., the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, which focused on marijuana, not only failed to produce positive outcomes but showed negative indications of increasing marijuana initiation rather than preventing it.

Building on the learnings from this research and capturing some of the principles of behavioural and communication theories, Dr William Crano and his colleagues at Claremont Graduate University have been working with a model called EQUIP to help prevention and communications practitioners develop the most effective and persuasive messages.

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