Jane T Bertranda Rebecca Anhangb

Objectives To review the strength of the evidence for the effects of three types of mass media interventions (radio only, radio with supporting media, or radio and television with supporting media) on HIV/AIDS-related behaviour among young people in developing countries and to assess whether these interventions reach the threshold of evidence needed to recommend widespread implementation.

Methods We conducted a systematic review of studies that evaluated mass media interventions and were published or released between 1990 and 2004. Studies were included if they evaluated a mass media campaign that had the main objective of providing information about HIV/AIDS or sexual health. To be eligible for inclusion studies had to use a pre-intervention versus postintervention design or an intervention versus control design or analyse cross-sectional data comparing those who had been exposed to the campaign with those who had not been exposed. Studies also had to comprehensively report quantitative data for most outcomes.

Findings Ofthe 15 programmes identified, 11 were from Africa, 2 from Latin America, 1 from Asia, and 1 from multiple countries. One programme used radio only, six used radio with supporting media, and eight others used television and radio with supporting media. The data support the effectiveness of mass media interventions to increase the knowledge of HIV transmission, to improve self-efficacy in condom use, to influence some social norms, to increase the amount of interpersonal communication, to increase condom use and to boost awareness of health providers. Fewer significant effects were found for improving self-efficacy in terms of abstinence, delaying the age of first sexual experience or decreasing the number of sexual partners.

Conclusions We found that mass media programmes can influence HIV-related outcomes among young people, although not on every variable or in a Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Center for Communication Programs, 111 Market Place, Suite 310, Baltimore, MD 21202, USA. Correspondence should be sent to Jane Bertrand (email: [email protected]). b Harvard University, Boston, MA, USA.

every campaign. Campaigns that include television require the highest threshold of evidence, yet they also yield the strongest evidence of effects. This suggests that comprehensive mass media programmes are valuable.

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