In-depth investigation of interpersonal discussions in response to a safer sex mass media campaign

Donald W. Helme, Seth M. Noar, Suzanne Allard, Rick S. Zimmerman, Philip Palmgreen, Karen J. Mcclanahan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


We know from theory and limited research that people talk about campaign messages-and that these conversations may play an important role in campaign reach and possibly even efficacy. We know very little, however, about what individuals talk about and with whom they talk. The current study seeks to fill this gap by reporting qualitative and descriptive quantitative data from interviews conducted with 139 young adults about conversations that took place in the context of a large, televised safer sex mass media campaign. Results indicated that public service announcements (PSAs) were often viewed in the company of friends and significant others, and that it was not uncommon for conversations about the PSAs to take place. Three broad categories of conversations that took place involved discussions about PSA realism, the seriousness of the message, and humor. While in some cases conversations seemed to advance the goal of the campaign (e.g., participants discussed sexually transmitted disease [STD] risk and condom use), in other cases they did not (e.g., participants discussed the lack of realism in a particular PSA). Implications for campaign theory, design, and implementation are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)366-378
Number of pages13
JournalHealth Communication
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by grant R01-MH63705 from the National Institute of Mental Health (PI: Rick S. Zimmerman).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Communication


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