Message testing to create effective health communication campaigns

Juliane Domigan, Tavis J. Glassman, Jeff Miller, Heather Hug, Aaron J. Diehr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Purpose - The purpose of this paper was to assess a health communication campaign designed to reduce distracted driving among college students within the USA. Design/methodology/approach - Utilizing central interviewing techniques, participants were asked qualitative and quantitative items soliciting feedback concerning the efficacy of the messages. Findings - The findings indicated students understood, believed, found the messages appealing, and thought the campaign discouraged distracted driving. Several themes emerged from the qualitative analysis, including the prominence of the logo, recommendation to use bright colors, and the suggestion to use more intense graphics. Research limitations/implications - First, the data were collected by conducting interviews, potentially leading to some shortcomings associated with self-reported data. Second, while the results indicated that participants perceived that the messages discouraged distracted driving, none of the central intercept interview items assessed participants' intentions to change their behavior. Third, a convenience sample was used, and thus the generalizability of the results are limited and warrant further research. Finally, because multiple researchers conducted the interviews, it is possible that data were interpreted differently, which could pose a threat to inter-rater reliability. Practical implications - Message testing provides practitioners with invaluable feedback in designing effective messages. However, suggestions from the target audience need to be carefully considered before revising messages, as the lay public are not experts in prevention. Originality/value - Message testing provides health educators with a specific method to receive feedback from the target audience to ensure they understand and are motivated by the message, resulting in a more effective health communication campaign.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)480-494
Number of pages15
JournalHealth Education
Issue number5
StatePublished - Aug 3 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Emerald Group Publishing Limited.


  • Accidents
  • Communication
  • Evaluation of interventions
  • Health
  • Media
  • Prevention
  • Universities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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