Anti-tobacco mass media and socially disadvantaged groups: A systematic and methodological review


Ashleigh Guillaumier BPsyc (Hons), PhD Student, Billie Bonevski PhD, Research Fellow, Chris Paul PhD, Senior Research Academic. Mrs Ashleigh Guillaumier, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle, Newcastle 2308, Australia. Tel: +61 (0)2 4033 5711; Fax: +61 (0) 2 4033 5600; Email:


Issues. Only a limited amount of research has been conducted to explore whether there are socioeconomic status differences in responses to mass media. However, the methodological quality of this evidence has not been assessed, limiting confidence in conclusions that can be drawn regarding study outcomes. A systematic review of the effectiveness of anti-tobacco mass media campaigns with socially disadvantaged groups was conducted, and the methodological quality of included studies was assessed.

Approach. Medline, The Cochrane Library, PsycInfo, Embase and Web of Science were searched using MeSH and keywords for quantitative studies conducted in Western countries prior to March 2012. A methodological quality assessment and narrative analysis of included studies was undertaken.

Key Findings. Seventeen relevant studies (reported in 18 papers) were identified; however, weak study designs and selection bias were common characteristics, limiting strong conclusions about effectiveness. Using predominantly non-cessation related outcome measures reviewed papers indicated mixed results for mass media tobacco control campaign effectiveness among various social groups. Most studies assessed mass media impact on low socioeconomic status groups rather than highly socially disadvantaged groups.

Implications. Methodological rigour of evaluations in this field must be improved to aid understanding regarding the effectiveness of mass media campaigns in driving cessation among disadvantaged groups.

Conclusion. The results of this review indicate a gap in methodologically rigorous research into the effectiveness of mass media campaigns among socially disadvantaged groups, particularly the highly disadvantaged.[Guillaumier A, Bonevski B, Paul C. Anti-tobacco mass media and socially disadvantaged groups: A systematic and methodological review. Drug Alcohol Rev 2012;31:698–708]