Using Interactive Media Tools to Test
Substance Abuse Prevention Messages
Michael Burgoon, Eusebio M. Alvaro, Katherine Broneck,
Claude Miller, Joseph R. Grandpre, John R. Hall,
and Cynthia A. Frank
University of Arizona
Social awareness of public health issues has reached an unprecedented level, given the serious and aversive consequences of disease, disability, and even death that are potentially preventable. High-risk behaviors (e.g., tobacco use, risky sexual behavior, and illegal drug use) have contributed to pandemic prevalence of infectious diseases including HIWAIDS, increasing rates of cancer and cardiovascular disease, and a plethora of economic and health problems associated with drug abuse. Because attitudinal and behavioral modifications are required to manage such potentially preventable maladies, unprecedented efforts have been mounted to develop communication campaigns aimed at disease prevention and control and substance abuse abatement. As is usually the case with only such campaign development, policymakers and researchers have turned to tried-and-true communication channels such as print products and general broad-based radio and television spots to “educate” and “inform” the general public of the aversive consequences of specific health-related behaviors.
Over time, the amount of money spent on health campaigns has increased geometrically. Concomitantly, there has been a monumental increase in the information available to the body politic about a number of health issues, preventable diseases, and dangerous behaviors. However, there is increasing evidence that the correlation between the amount of information available and the acceptance of advocated behavioraVattitudinal change is disappointingly low. One can point to a number of cam