Are social marketing campaigns effective in preventing child abuse and neglect?
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Briony Horsfall, Leah Bromfield, Myfanwy McDonald
Social marketing campaigns are a common strategy for raising awareness about social problems such as child abuse and neglect. However, questions have been raised about the role social marketing campaigns could play, and their potential efficacy in the prevention of child abuse and neglect and in supporting vulnerable children and families.
In this NCPC Issues paper, evidence for the impact of media-based social marketing campaigns related to child protection, parenting and child abuse prevention are examined.
Child maltreatment continues to be a significant social problem in Australia and many other nations. The best available data suggest that between the ages of 0-18 years: 5-10% of children experience physical abuse; around one-in-ten are emotionally maltreated; 12-23% witness family violence; and 4-8% experience serious (i.e., penetrative) sexual abuse (Price-Robertson, Bromfield, & Vassallo, 2010). There were 55,000 cases of child abuse or neglect investigated and confirmed by child protection services in Australia in 2008-09 (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare [AIHW], 2010).
Media-based social marketing campaigns have been identified by the World Health Organisation as having the potential to contribute to the prevention of child maltreatment (World Health Organization [WHO], 2006). Social marketing involves the application of commercial marketing techniques and technologies to "influence the voluntary behaviour of target audiences to improve their personal welfare and that of society" (Andreasen, 1994, p. 110). A media-based social marketing campaign could contribute to the prevention of child maltreatment by raising public awareness of the issue and educating and fostering pro-social behaviours within families.
This Issues paper presents the results of a systematic review of literature about social marketing campaigns related to the prevention of child abuse and neglect, and to parenting problems. The paper aims to identify the characteristics of campaigns in this area and the evidence regarding their effectiveness.
What is social marketing?
Social marketing differs from other branches of marketing in that it relates to the wellbeing of the community (rather than the wellbeing of the marketer) (Donovan, 2005). The fundamental goal of social marketing campaigns is to bring about behavioural change (Andreasen, 2003). This can range from encouraging people to change a specific behaviour on their own (self-regulation) to seeking professional help about a difficult problem. Social marketing draws from a broad range of social sciences for the purpose of influencing people in socially desirable ways and generating social good (Donovan & Henley, 2003; Stead, Gordon, Angus, & McDermott, 2007).
Social marketing campaigns are generally categorised according to whether they appeal to positive motivations and emotions in order to bring about the desired behavioural change (referred to as "incentive appeals") or whether they rely upon fear to bring about the desired behavioural change (referred to as "threat appeals") (Henley, Donovan, & Moorhead, 1998; Henley & Donovan, 1999).
It has been proposed that effective social marketing include strategies that target change in social environments, communities, social policies and legislation, rather than solely relying on individuals to change their behaviour (Donovan & Henley, 2003; Siegel & Doner, 1998). For example, the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion (WHO, 1986) and more recently, the Bangkok Charter for Health Promotion in a Globalised World (WHO, 2005) recommended that contemporary public health social marketing campaigns invest in the social and environmental determinants of health and welfare, stating that: "people cannot achieve their fullest health potential unless they are able to take control of those things which determine their health" (WHO, 1986). According to Donovan and Henley (2003) a social marketing campaign that targets social structures will be more likely to produce a "social good" (p. 6).
Although social marketing campaigns aspire to achieve social good there can be potential for unintended harm to occur (Donovan, Jalleh, Fielder, & Ouschan, 2009). For example, there has been concern from some sectors that social marketing campaigns with "hard-hitting" content (i.e., graphic, emotive and/or shocking content) can be damaging in certain contexts. As an illustration, a media campaign that was intended to reduce violence against women and featured depictions of gratuitous violence was criticised for being potentially counter productive (i.e., promoting violence rather than discouraging it) (Donovan et al., 2009, p. 7). Social marketing campaigns that utilise hard-hitting content to address child sexual abuse are especially fraught, as they have the potential to expose children to traumatic themes and images and re-traumatise child sexual abuse survivors (Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault [ACSSA], 2010). Social marketing campaigns with hard-hitting content have been the subject of heated debate in Australia (Donovan et al., 2009; ACSSA, 2010).
Public health and law enforcement are the main fields that have conducted social marketing campaigns in Australia. Social marketing emerged during the 1970s as a strategy to communicate messages about social issues, with topics related to hygiene, family planning and attitudes towards women (Donovan & Henley, 2003). During the 1980s, social marketing in Australia became established as an approach to educate the public and target individual behaviours. Social marketing campaigns at this time targeted drink-driving, heart disease prevention, and increased use of car seatbelts. By the 1990s health-related behaviours dominated the Australian social marketing field, such as Quit campaigns (anti-smoking) and the famous "Grim Reaper" advertising (HIV/AIDS) (Rigby, Brown, Anagnostou, Ross, & Rosser, 1989; Scollo & Winstanley, 2008). Social marketing campaigns related to child maltreatment are one of many competing for public attention in a crowded media environment (Randolf & Viswanath, 2004).
Advertising is a core element of social marketing and is most useful where there is a lack of awareness about a social issue. One of the benefits of social marketing campaigns that include a mass media advertising component is that they are likely to increase public awareness, irrespective of the specific aims of the campaign. It has been argued, however, that advertising alone is not as effective in bringing about population-wide changes as a social marketing campaign that is incorporated with a broader set of intervention strategies (Wise, 2000). According to this perspective a social marketing campaign that includes, for example, advertising and a community-capacity building component or advertising and the provision of practical support is likely to be more effective at bringing about population-wide changes than an advertising campaign alone.
The public health model and social marketing targeting child maltreatment
Tertiary child protection services in Australia struggle to meet the needs of children in need of statutory intervention as well as the needs of children and families who are below the threshold for child protection intervention (O'Donnell, Scott, & Stanley, 2008). The National Framework for Protecting Australia's Children (Council of Australian Governments, 2009) recognises the current challenges for statutory child protection services and has a strong focus on prevention, operationalised through an adoption of a public health approach to preventing child abuse and neglect. In a public health approach, statutory child protection services are a last resort (tertiary intervention), with the bulk of support for families served by universal health and welfare services (primary prevention). Additional services are then provided for more complex concerns (secondary prevention). Interventions for issues such as parental substance misuse or mental illness, also act as sites for early intervention and prevention of child abuse (O'Donnell et al., 2008).
A public health approach to child protection interventions also provides a useful model for social marketing campaigns that intend to address child maltreatment and parenting issues (Allen Consulting Group, 2009; Tomison & Poole, 2000). In a public health approach, universal social marketing campaigns that target the whole community or all families are a form of primary intervention. These interventions support the safety and wellbeing of all children. An example of this would be a mass media campaign targeting parents and other adults to be aware that they are modelling alcohol-related behaviour to children when drinking alcohol in their presence. Secondary level social marketing interventions can seek to address risk factors to prevent child maltreatment and escalation of parenting problems, for example, a campaign about how risky alcohol consumption (e.g., binge drinking) can negatively impact the quality of parenting while intoxicated and/or hungover. A social marketing campaign can be designed as a tertiary intervention for the purpose of reducing harm to children and preventing the recurrence of maltreatment, for example, a campaign that aims to educate drink-driving offenders with child passengers of the harm to children if they are in a collision. It is also possible for a social marketing campaign to combine more than one type of intervention.
Developing a social marketing campaign
A range of theories and approaches could inform the development of a social marketing campaign. A public health approach can inform the decision regarding the target audience (e.g., primary, secondary or tertiary intervention) and health promotion theory can also be used to inform the way in which a social marketing campaign is developed and implemented. When considering the key steps involved in a social marketing campaign the Precede-Proceed model is especially useful. Developed by Green and Kreuter (2005) in the 1990s and updated in 2005, the Precede-Proceed model proposes that health promotion interventions should be multi-dimensional and participatory at an individual and/or community level in order to be effective (Lin, Smith, & Fawkes, 2007).
The Precede-Proceed model has four sequential stages:
- Assessing the needs of the population - assessing the social, environmental, educational and policy contexts behind the social issue, drawing on demographic information and knowledge of community needs and priorities to assess the needs of the population (DiClemente, Crosby, & Kegler, 2009; Lin et al., 2007);
- Selection of an appropriate theory - theories of individual and community change provide the logic for designing a social marketing campaign, guiding the definition of the social problem, planning a solution, implementing and evaluating the campaign (Nutbeam & Harris, 2004);
- Implementation - implementing the program as planned utilising the strategies deemed appropriate to the program objectives (Nutbeam & Harris, 2004); and
- Evaluation - assessing whether the campaign has been effective and whether it should be continued, modified or discontinued (Egger, Spark, & Donovan, 2005).
In the following sections the final three stages of the Precede-Proceed model are explored (selecting an appropriate theory, implementation and evaluation) in order to illustrate the stages involved in the development of a social marketing campaign and the models that could be used to guide social marketers through these stages. (The first stage, the special issue of child maltreatment, has been addressed above.)
Selecting an appropriate theory
One or more theories of individual or community-level change could be selected to inform the design of a social marketing campaign. This section presents the main theories for generating individual and community-level change that are commonly applied to social marketing campaigns (see Table 1 below).
|Health Belief Model||Individuals will change their behaviour when they perceive there is a threat to themselves, there is personal benefit to be gained and they have self-efficacy to make the desired change.|
|Theory of Reasoned Action and Planned Behaviour||Behaviour can be predicted by people's intentions. An individual's attitudes, subjective norms (perceived approval/disapproval of others and motivation to comply) and perceived behaviour control can be influenced to change intentions and behaviour outcomes.|
|Social Cognitive/Social Learning Theory||Based on the premise that behaviour is a product of interactions between an individual (especially their self-efficacy) and their environment. Role modelling, observational learning and expectations of positive or negative reinforcement are key concepts for behaviour change.|
|Stages of Change Model/ Trans-theoretical Model||There are five stages in the process of change: pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation/determination, action, and maintenance. One or more stages can be targeted in social marketing interventions. Acknowledges that behaviour change is a process.|
|Diffusion of Innovation||Introducing a new idea, practice or product into a community. These campaigns emphasise "newness" and benefits of adopting the innovation to appeal to community groups.|
|Community Organisation||Involving a segment of the community (community coalition) in problem solving and planning social marketing interventions for social issues.|
|Community Building||Also known as locality development and community capacity, this involves building capacity and empowerment across the whole of community. It emphasises enabling communities to help themselves.|
Note: The information in this table was adapted from the following sources: Baum (1998); DiClemente et al. (2009); Lin et al. (2007); Noar (2005-2006); Nutbeam & Harris (2004).
The theories of individual change in Table 1 assume that awareness, knowledge and attitudes influence a person's behaviour (Nutbeam & Harris, 2004). Persuading an individual to change their behaviour relies on their self-efficacy to identify, make and sustain behaviour change. There is an assumption that there will be social gains for individuals who do change their behaviour, such as approval from others and peer acceptance (Nutbeam & Harris, 2004). A social marketing campaign based on individual change is relatively easy to implement and evaluate compared to community-based social marketing. Social marketing that targets community-level change includes more variables, making empirical evaluation more difficult to control (Nutbeam & Harris, 2004).
Implementing a social marketing campaign
There are a number of models that could be used to guide the implementation of a social marketing campaign. The two most influential models are the Four P's marketing mix (Andreasen, 1994) and the Communication-Persuasion Matrix (McGuire, 2001). These models are derived from commercial marketing. Each is briefly described below.
The Four Ps
The Four Ps is an approach to planning and implementing a social marketing campaign adopted from commercial marketing (Grier & Bryant, 2005). The marketing elements of product, price, place and promotion form a marketing campaign strategy (Andreasen, 1994). Some of the elements of the Four Ps approach are similar to the Precede-Proceed model. For example, the Four Ps model suggests that the product (i.e., the behaviour being promoted) should be responsive to the needs and wants of the target audience in the same way the Precede-Proceed model highlights the importance of assessing the needs of the population. A product should offer a solution to the social problem. The place is where the desired behaviour is put into action (Grier & Bryant, 2005). The place where the behaviour is performed needs to be accessible and convenient for the target audience. The price is comprised of social, psychological and economic costs and benefits to the individual engaging in the behaviour. Finally, the product of the campaign needs to be visibly promoted through media or other activities to reach the target audience. This requires a promotion strategy that is compatible with the lifestyle and personal preferences of the audience (Andreasen, 1994).
The Communication-Persuasion Matrix
The Communication-Persuasion Matrix (known also as the Communication-Behaviour Change Model) was developed by McGuire (2001) to guide the development of public education campaigns. It comprises five "input" communication variables:
- source - the person, group or organisation delivering the campaign message (e.g., government, non-government organisation);
- message of the campaign - including content, tone and form;
- channel through which the campaign is delivered, usually involving mass media;
- receiver or intended audience for the campaign (requires knowing social and demographic variables, current attitudes and behaviour and media preferences); and
- destination - the intended short-term and long-term outcomes of the campaign, such as specific changes in awareness, attitudes and behaviour (McGuire, 2001; McGuire, 1981; Nutbeam & Harris, 2004).
The Communication-Persuasion Matrix provides a model for implementing social marketing strategies, such as: what the message of the campaign should be, what tone the message should take (e.g., hard-hitting or a positive message) and which medium should be used.
Evaluating social marketing campaigns
In the context of social marketing campaigns about child maltreatment, evaluation is important because it can determine whether social marketing campaigns contribute to a reduction in child maltreatment and child abuse and, if so, how they can do so in the most effective way. Without embedding evaluation into the design of a campaign, it is difficult to determine if it has achieved any positive impact on the entrenched social problem of child maltreatment.
It is important to note however, that empirical evaluation of social marketing campaigns is challenging. A lack of access to expertise, technology and resources can impinge upon evaluation efforts. Evaluation can be perceived as diverting precious funds away from an intervention that is supposed to help people, meaning that there can be some reluctance to spend money designing and implementing an evaluation strategy (Tomison, 2000). There may not be the resources for rigorous experimental or quasi-experimental designs across the population that is exposed to the campaign. It is also difficult to isolate the impact of the campaign when there may be other factors influencing the community's attitude about child maltreatment. For example, a highly publicised fatal child maltreatment incident that occurs at the same time a social marketing campaign about child maltreatment is underway could impact upon people's attitudes about child maltreatment.
Systematic evaluation of social marketing campaigns is important, however, as it can provide insight into whether these campaigns are effective. Evaluation evidence is critical to justify the economic costs of a social marketing campaign and, most importantly, to ensure that unintended negative impacts have not occurred and there have actually been positive gains (Grier & Bryant, 2005). Evaluations of social marketing campaigns can also be used to build an evidence base regarding intervention effectiveness, and thereby have the potential to inform future campaigns and influence evidence-informed policy (Greir & Bryant, 2005; Nutbeam & Harris, 2004).
Box 1: Evaluation of social marketing campaigns
There are five main types of evaluation that can be used to evaluate social marketing campaigns (Bauman, 2000; Donovan & Henley, 2003; Hornik, 2002a; Noar, 2006; Nutbeam & Bauman; 2006; Valente, 2001). The types of evaluation reflect the stages of the Precede-Proceed model. These can be used to evaluate specific stages of a social marketing campaign, from design, through to implementation and campaign outcomes.
- Formative assessment determines the need for a social marketing campaign in a population. This can involve determining the social problem to be addressed, what the needs of the population are and what type of intervention would be most appropriate for the population. At this stage, a baseline population survey of the community is typically conducted for later comparison with a post-campaign survey.
- Pilot (or efficacy) testing is a trial of the social marketing campaign on a sample audience, often to determine if an intervention meets face validity. One of the benefits of pilot testing is that it provides an opportunity to adjust the campaign materials based on feedback from the participants.
- Process evaluation evaluates the implementation and dissemination of the campaign. This focuses on the degree to which the campaign was conducted as planned.
- Impact evaluation measures the direct, short-term effects of the campaign. This could include measures of mass media exposure and changes in awareness, knowledge or behaviour in the target audience.
- Outcome evaluation estimates the long-term effects, if any, associated with the campaign at a population level. This can include cost-benefit analysis. Examples of relevant outcomes include changes in prevalence or incidence rates, ongoing trends in help-seeking behaviour and sustained improvements in awareness, knowledge or behaviour.
Identifying child maltreatment social marketing campaigns
For this NCPC Issues paper, we undertook a systematic literature review to determine whether there was evidence that social marketing campaigns were effective in preventing child maltreatment. In a systematic review, sets of key terms or subject words are used to identify publications in academic databases and websites. The findings are then analysed to form an evidence-base (Petticrew & Roberts, 2006). By using a disciplined, replicable method for searching the literature and synthesising results, systematic literature reviews offer a transparent and reliable account of the current evidence (Littell, Corcoran, & Pillai, 2008). The aims of this systematic review were to:
- identify social marketing, media or community education campaigns in the area of child abuse and neglect or parenting problems;
- determine the characteristics (including notable strengths and limitations) of social marketing campaigns targeting child abuse and neglect and the factors that are known to contribute to the risk of abuse and neglect occurring (e.g., parenting problems, parental substance misuse, domestic violence in families and the impact of these on children) (referred to as child maltreatment campaigns);
- examine whether social marketing campaigns targeting child maltreatment had an effective impact on the awareness, knowledge, attitudes or behaviours perpetuating the social problem that they were designed to address; and
- draw conclusions about the usefulness and potential effectiveness of social marketing campaigns for child abuse and neglect prevention in Australia.
Literature searching was conducted between August and December of 2009. For a full description of the search strategy for identifying literature for this paper, including databases searched and the search terms employed refer to the online Appendix.1
A search of literature identified thirty-six publications about child maltreatment campaigns released between 1995 and 2009. These publications formed the evidence-base for this project (see the online Appendix).2 These thirty-six publications described 21 distinct social marketing campaigns that had been implemented between 1995 and 2009. Those campaigns that were evaluated for impact and/or outcome were identified (see Table 2).
|Child maltreatment social marketing campaigns||12||9||21|
|Campaigns with any evaluation||7||8||15|
|Campaigns with impact and/or outcome evaluation||5||7||12|
Note: * Campaigns directly related to child protection, child abuse and neglect or the determinants of child abuse and neglect (e.g., parenting problems, parental substance misuse, the impacts of domestic violence on children). Published from 1995-2009.
This systematic literature review has shown that there is relatively little evidence regarding the effectiveness of social marketing campaigns in preventing or reducing child maltreatment. Only 12 campaigns relating to child maltreatment were identified as having published evidence of impact and/or outcomes evaluation. As observed by WHO (2006), more evidence that social marketing campaigns can change community awareness, attitudes, knowledge and behaviour associated with child maltreatment is required, especially as campaigns can "highlight the extent and nature of child maltreatment and encourage the provision of services to children and families" (p. 37).
The 12 social marketing campaigns related to child maltreatment that provided impact and/or outcome evaluation evidence have collectively demonstrated some capacity to positively affect people's awareness, knowledge, attitudes and behaviour. One of the campaigns, that formed part of a broader strategy with a range of activities, demonstrated a capacity to bring about improvements in child maltreatment at a population level.
Based on the strengths and limitations of these campaigns, six key areas have emerged for optimising any future social marketing campaigns that aim to address child maltreatment in Australia. These are:
- comprehensive evaluation;
- pairing mass media with a community-level strategy;
- issues relating to reliance on television advertising;
- aligning campaigns with support services;
- assessing the needs of the target audience; and
- using a suitable theoretical framework.
The issue that emerges most strongly in this review is the importance of comprehensive evaluation of social marketing campaigns relating to child maltreatment. As previously discussed, interventions that intend to have an impact on child maltreatment or parenting problems need to be evaluated to determine if they have been of any benefit to children and their families (Holzer, Higgins, Bromfield, Richardson, & Higgins, 2006). Indeed it could be argued that there is a very good reason for evaluating social marketing campaigns that relate to child maltreatment, especially those with hard-hitting content, because they have the potential to be harmful to vulnerable members of the community, including children and maltreatment survivors. Any benefits of social marketing campaigns related to this sensitive issue need to be weighed against the potential risks. This type of assessment requires that evaluations of these campaigns are conducted and the findings of those evaluations are made publicly available.
Ideally evaluation should include measures of behaviour change, especially as this is the fundamental purpose of social marketing campaigns. Using the number of calls to a helpline as a measure of behavioural change is a relatively easy way of gathering data about a campaign, however the usefulness of these data are limited in terms of measuring whether children's lives are improved. Using data on self-reported behaviour change as a measure of the success of a campaign that targets a highly sensitive issue such as child abuse may also be problematic. As discussed previously, social marketing campaigns about child maltreatment may raise the awareness of the stigma surrounding a topic and thereby influence people's responses to a question regarding their behaviour. A self-reported change in behaviour in this case may not represent a change in actual behaviour.
As noted in this paper, the empirical evaluation of social marketing campaigns is challenging. Issues such as a lack of access to expertise, technology and resources can impinge upon evaluation efforts and rigorous experimental or quasi-experimental designs across the population can be inappropriate. Identifying any unintended negative consequences of a social marketing strategy is also critical to prevent people being harmed as a result of campaign messages. Given that most social marketing campaigns receive some form of government funding, evaluation ensures that public money is directed towards interventions that are effective and represent value for money.
Another important issue to emerge is the importance of pairing social marketing campaigns with a community-level component. The integration of both mass media and community-level strategies appreciates that attitudes and behaviours are complex and that a campaign is unlikely to produce long-term change without broader social reinforcement. Community-level strategies recognise that individual behaviour does not occur in isolation. Social relationships create the environment to either support or challenge child maltreatment, through neighbourhoods, schools, workplaces, health services and other institutions (WHO, 2006). Experts in the field of public health are optimistic about the potential of mass media-based social marketing to be a powerful strategy when paired with broader community interventions that actually address the social context of individual wellbeing (Abroms & Maibach, 2008; Hornik, 2002a). For child maltreatment, pairing mass media with a community-level component would help reinforce the message that child protection is everyone's responsibility.
A common feature of the campaigns that were explored as part of this systematic review was the utilisation of multiple delivery methods however television advertising continues to be a key medium for social marketing campaigns. The reliance upon television advertising is especially relevant to future social marketing campaigns considering mediums such as television and newspapers are becoming less popular as a means for accessing information, especially amongst younger age groups (Ahlers, 2006; Dimmick, Chen, & Li, 2004; Havick, 2000). However, any employment of new technologies such as the Internet need to be deployed strategically so as not to increase inequalities between social groups (i.e., unequal access to the Internet in rural and remote areas of Australia and low levels of digital literacy amongst some groups) (Wise, 2000). Furthermore, in Australia especially the reliance upon community advertising for televised social marketing advertisements needs to be considered in light of the evidence that suggests that the effectiveness of community advertising is limited by the fact it is often televised during non-peak viewing times.
Aligning social marketing campaigns with support services reflects the aspirations of a public health model for the protection of Australia's children (Council of Australian Governments, 2009). There are two important issues to consider in relation to this theme. First, social marketing campaigns related to child maltreatment must offer ways to access further information and support that are tailored to the needs of the target audience. Second, if mass media has the intended effect of generating individual and community change, then increases in demand for assistance, information and support services are to be anticipated. This requires investing in the economic and human capital of support services so that they are prepared for the public's response (Andrews et al., 1995).
Assessing the attitudes and beliefs of the target audience has emerged as a key process to undertake when deciding which social problem should be the subject of a campaign. This means tuning into the "consumers" of a social marketing campaign about child maltreatment by using formative assessment and research to find out what needs to be understood from the perspective of the target population (Stead et al., 2007). Extensive formative assessment and research provides insight into the existing awareness, knowledge, attitudes or behaviours of the target audience to increase the likelihood a campaign will have an impact (Stead et al., 2007). Incorporating a sample of the target audience as participants in the design and evaluation process also represents an ethical redistribution of power between those implementing a campaign and those whom the campaign is intended to impact (Grier & Bryant, 2005).
A theoretical framework for individual and community-level change is important to social marketing campaigns about child maltreatment. Underpinning the campaign with a theory of change guides the development, implementation and evaluation of the intervention. A theoretical framework builds an understanding of the determinants of individual behaviour associated with child maltreatment; identifies the social influences that can lead to desirable behaviour change; and informs the appropriate message required to influence the desired behaviour (Randolf & Viswanth, 2004; Stead et al., 2007). As Wray (2006) has argued in relation to public communication about interpersonal violence, "if we do not think through and test our theories of behaviour as an integral part of the intervention planning process, then we are broadcasting aimlessly" (p. 44). A theoretical framework provides a strategy to conscientiously tackle complex individual behaviour and community-level change and assess its efficacy.
Overall, the analysis has shown that future Australian social marketing campaigns that aim to address child maltreatment need to be empirically informed, designed with a theoretical foundation, be rigorously evaluated and embedded in a wider community strategy for the benefits of child abuse prevention and effectual interventions to be achieved.
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Appendix: Methodology and procedure
For this Issues paper, literature searching was performed between August 2009 and December 2009. Additional searching was undertaken in January 2010 to trace campaigns referred to within publications. Literature was collected from the following databases: EbscoHost (SocIndex, Psycinfo, Psycarticles, Psychology and behavioural sciences, Child development and adolescent studies and Family studies); Informit (Family and Society Plus); ERIC; National Criminal Justice Reference Service; Social Care Online; Proquest; Google and Google Scholar. The Australian Institute of Family Studies library was also systematically searched.
Key terms were entered in a sequential order into each database. Due to the large number of publications identified when using the terms "social marketing" and "media campaign" alone, the search was narrowed with "child abuse or neglect or maltreatment". This resulted in such a small number of hits, the terms "community education" and "community attitudes" were introduced to widen the evidence-base on child maltreatment and parenting. This experience reflected that of Stead et al. (2007), who found the search label "social marketing" to be insufficient for finding literature in databases on public health campaigns specifically targeting physical activity.
Note that the key terms did not specifically include domestic violence, drug use or mental health. Consequently, campaigns associated with these social issues that emerged from the literature search were found in relation to child maltreatment and were selected because the content of the campaign included a message about the effects of these problems upon children or parenting more generally.
The key terms for this systematic literature search were:
- social marketing + evaluation
- (social marketing + evaluation) + (child abuse or neglect or maltreatment)
- (social marketing + evaluation) + parent*
- (social marketing + evaluation) + child protection
- media campaign + evaluation
- (media campaign + evaluation) + (child abuse or neglect or maltreatment)
- (media campaign + evaluation) + parent*
- (media campaign + evaluation) + child protection
- community education + (child abuse or neglect or maltreatment)
- community education + parent*
- community education + child protection
- community attitudes + (child abuse or neglect or maltreatment)
- community attitudes + parent*
- community attitudes + child protection
The database searches produced 173 publications (journal articles, books, government reports, etc.) about social marketing campaigns. Ten publications were discarded because they did not comprise research on specific social marketing campaigns (e.g., general social marketing literature and opinion pieces). Seventeen publications were excluded as they described population-level surveys of attitudes about child abuse, neglect, maltreatment or family issues, which were not undertaken as part of a social marketing or mass media campaign. In order to focus on contemporary social marketing campaigns implemented during the last 15 years (i.e., 1995-2009), a further seventeen publications released prior to 1995 were also excluded. This resulted in a total sample of 129 publications.
The remaining 129 publications were coded into one of two topic areas: child maltreatment campaigns (defined as social marketing campaigns targeting child abuse and neglect and the determinants of abuse and neglect (e.g., parenting problems, parental substance misuse, domestic violence in families and the impact of these on children), and public health (non-parenting or child maltreatment) campaigns. The coding of publications was independently replicated to validate the procedure. Within these topic areas, the publications were further categorised into Australian or international campaigns. Following a preliminary review, the 93 publications relating to public health campaigns (e.g., domestic violence campaigns not related to families or exposure to children; exercise; quitting smoking; road safety) were also excluded. This resulted in a remaining sample of 36 publications, with 21 distinct child maltreatment-related social marketing campaigns that formed the evidence base for this project.
At the time of writing Briony Horsfall was a Research Officer with the National Child Protection Clearinghouse at the Australian Institute of Family Studies.
At the time of writing Dr Leah Bromfield was Manager of the National Child Protection Clearinghouse at the Australian Institute of Family Studies. Dr Bromfield is now Deputy Director of the Australian Centre for Child Protection.
At the time of writing Dr Myfanwy McDonald was a Senior Research Officer at the National Child Protection Clearinghouse. Dr McDonald is now the Acting Coordinator of the Communities and Families Clearinghouse Australia.
The authors gratefully acknowledge Mr Rhys Price-Robertson for validating the coding of literature and Mr Alister Lamont for feedback and assistance with analysis. The authors would also like to acknowledge Dr Rob Donovan and Dr Danielle Zerk for reviewing this paper.