Home > Multi-method evaluation of the ‘How to save a life’ mass media campaign.

Trayner, Kirsten M A and Sumnall, Harry R and Anderson, Martin and Atkinson, Amanda and McAuley, Andrew (2022) Multi-method evaluation of the ‘How to save a life’ mass media campaign. Liverpool John Moores University; Glasgow Caledonian University; Scottish Drugs Forum.

PDF (‘How to save a life’ mass media campaign)

Scotland has the highest reported rates of drug-related deaths in Europe. Take-home naloxone (THN) programmes are the single most effective tool to reduce the likelihood of opioid-related mortality immediately following an opioid overdose. The “How to Save a Life” (hereafter HTSAL) campaign was a large-scale nationwide social marketing campaign on drug-related deaths commissioned by the Scottish Government (SG) in collaboration with the Scottish Drugs Forum (SDF). The campaign was delivered using a variety of strategies, including TV and radio adverts, social media, and large billboards in transport hubs, shopping centres and outdoor locations. Campaign materials directed people to the ‘Stop the Deaths’ website which provided information about how to recognise and respond to an overdose. From the website, people were directed to an SDF overdose response and naloxone eLearning course and also to another link where they could order a THN kit directly from Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs (SFAD). 

The campaign ran for 8 weeks from the 30th August 2021 - 24th October 2021. This was followed by a booster campaign, which ran from 13th December 2021 - 13th January 2022. The main objectives of the campaign were to:

  • Increase awareness of drug-related deaths, the signs and symptoms of an overdose and how to respond to an overdose
  • Increase the supply of THN

Secondary objectives of the campaign were to:

  • Increase awareness and generate discussion of drug-related deaths as an important public health issue. 

We conducted a multi-component evaluation of the HTSAL campaign that combined analysis of routine administrative data of THN distribution in Scotland with bespoke data generated from a panel survey of a representative sample of the Scottish population. Data from media sources was also utilised to provide a broad understanding of the impact of the campaign with respect to reach and engagement. The research components of this evaluation were developed independently of funders who had no influence on research questions and design, analysis, interpretations and conclusions generated from this study. Academic literature suggests that mass media campaigns can be effective at increasing knowledge and awareness of public health issues, but their effectiveness in directly driving behaviour change is generally limited or inconclusive. The success of the HTSAL campaign should be considered in this context, and in relation to the primary objectives of the campaign.

Conclusions: HTSAL was the largest and most extensive mass media campaign on drugs ever delivered in Scotland and the first to focus on drug-related deaths internationally. The campaign successfully raised awareness of drug-related deaths as a public health issue, improved knowledge of the signs and symptoms of an overdose and increased the national supply of THN.

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