Development and evaluation of an early detection intervention for mouth cancer using a mass media approach

Douglas Eadie*, Anne-Marie MacKintosh, Susan MacAskill, Abraham Brown

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)
15 Downloads (Pure)


Scotland has a high incidence of mouth cancer, but public awareness and knowledge are low compared with other cancers. The West of Scotland Cancer Awareness Project sought to increase public awareness and knowledge of mouth cancer and to encourage early detection of symptoms among an at-risk population of people aged over 40 years from lower socio-economic groups using a mass media approach. The media campaign aimed to increase people's feelings of personal risk, while also enhancing feelings of efficacy and control. To achieve this, a testimonial approach (using real people to tell their own stories) was adopted.

Campaign impact and reach was assessed using in-home interviews with a representative sample of the target population in both the campaign area and controls outside of the target area. Surveys were conducted at three stages: at baseline before the campaign was launched, and at 7 and 12 months thereafter.

Awareness of media coverage was higher at both follow-up points in the intervention area than in the control area, the differences largely being accounted for by television advertising. The campaign had a short-term, but not a long-term impact on awareness of the disease and intention to respond to the symptoms targeted by the campaign. Awareness of two of the symptoms featured in the campaign (ulcers and lumps) increased, post-campaign, among the intervention group.

While the study provides evidence for the effectiveness of the self-referral model, further work is needed to assess its ability to build public capacity to respond appropriately to symptoms and to compare the cost-effectiveness of a mass media approach against alternative communication approaches and more conventional mass screening.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S73–S79
Number of pages7
JournalBritish Journal of Cancer
Issue numberS2
Publication statusPublished - 3 Dec 2009
Externally publishedYes


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