The impact of mass-media campaigns on physical activity: a review of reviews through a policy lens

Nicolette R. den Braver, Enrique Garcia Bengoechea, Sven Messing, Liam Kelly, Linda J. Schoonmade, Kevin Volf, Joanna Zukowska, Peter Gelius, Sarah Forberger, Catherine B. Woods, J. Lakerveld

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Background: This review of reviews aimed to: (1) summarize the evidence from published reviews on the effectiveness of mass-media campaigns to promote physical activity (PA) or PA-related determinants (intermediate psychological and proximal outcomes) and (2) to identify policy-relevant recommendations related to successful PA campaigns. Methods: An extensive literature search was performed on 1 March 2021. Reviews that evaluated the impact of campaigns on distal (e.g. PA) and/or proximal outcomes of PA (awareness, knowledge, etc.) and that targeted the general population or subsets were included. Quality of reviews was assessed using the AMSTAR-2 tool. Policy-relevant recommendations were systematically derived and synthesized and formulated as good practice statements. A protocol was registered beforehand (ID: CRD42021249184). Results: A total of 1915 studies were identified, of which 22 reviews were included. The most consistent evidence was found for the effectiveness of mass-media campaigns on proximal outcomes, while the evidence for distal outcomes was mixed. Good practice statements were derived: (1) to achieve behaviour change, mass-media is an important component of larger, multilevel and multicomponent strategies; (2) mass-media strategies should be coordinated and aligned at local- and national-level and be sustained, monitored and resourced at these levels and (3) media should be tailored to reduce socioeconomic inequalities. Conclusions: Mass-media can play an important role in the promotion of PA. In general, evidence was more inconsistent for effectiveness on distal outcomes than for proximal outcomes. Policy-relevant recommendations include that mass-media strategies should be resourced, coordinated, aligned, sustained, monitored and evaluated on the local and national level.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)IV71-IV83
JournalEuropean Journal of Public Health
Issue numberSupplement_4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2022


  • Exercise
  • Health Resources
  • Humans
  • Mass Media
  • Policy

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