Effectiveness of Mass Media Campaigns to Reduce Alcohol Consumption and Harm: A Systematic Review

Ben Young, Sarah Lewis, Srinivasa Vittal Katikireddi, Linda Bauld, Martine Stead, Kathryn Angus, Mhairi Campbell, Shona Hilton, James Thomas, Kate Hinds, Adela Ashie, Tessa Langley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims  To assess the effectiveness of mass media messages to reduce alcohol consumption and related harms using a systematic literature review.  Methods  Eight databases were searched along with reference lists of eligible studies. Studies of any design in any country were included, provided that they evaluated a mass media intervention targeting alcohol consumption or related behavioural, social cognitive or clinical outcomes. Drink driving interventions and college campus campaigns were ineligible. Studies quality were assessed, data were extracted and a narrative synthesis conducted.  Results  Searches produced 10,212 results and 24 studies were included in the review. Most campaigns used TV or radio in combination with other media channels were conducted in developed countries and were of weak quality. There was little evidence of reductions in alcohol consumption associated with exposure to campaigns based on 13 studies which measured consumption, although most did not state this as a specific aim of the campaign. There were some increases in treatment seeking and information seeking and mixed evidence of changes in intentions, motivation, beliefs and attitudes about alcohol. Campaigns were associated with increases in knowledge about alcohol consumption, especially where levels had initially been low. Recall of campaigns was high.  Conclusion  Mass media health campaigns about alcohol are often recalled by individuals, have achieved changes in knowledge, attitudes and beliefs about alcohol but there is little evidence of reductions in alcohol consumption.  Short summary  There is little evidence that mass media campaigns have reduced alcohol consumption although most did not state that they aimed to do so. Studies show recall of campaigns is high and that they can have an impact on knowledge, attitudes and beliefs about alcohol consumption.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)302-316
Number of pages15
JournalAlcohol and alcoholism
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018


  • mass media
  • alcohol consumption
  • alcohol knowledge
  • adolescence
  • pregnancy
  • heavy episodic drinking


Dive into the research topics of 'Effectiveness of Mass Media Campaigns to Reduce Alcohol Consumption and Harm: A Systematic Review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this