Impact of a mass media campaign upon calls to the New South Wales Hep C helpline

Jack Chen, Ben J Smith, Stuart Loveday, Adrian Bauman, Melanie Costello, Brent Mackie, Danna Chung
Health Promotion Journal of Australia 2005, 16 (1): 11-4

ISSUE ADDRESSED: This study evaluated the impact of a mass media campaign upon calls to the New South Wales Hep C Helpline.

METHODS: A time-series design was used to record the number and characteristics of calls to the helpline before, during and after the campaign.

RESULTS: The incidence rate ratio of calls during the month of the campaign was 3.12 (95% CI 2.45-3.97) compared with the months before the campaign, and in this month more callers were < or =30 years or > or =60 years of age or non-English speaking while fewer were professionals or people directly affected by hepatitis C. Callers during the campaign were more likely to have heard about the helpline through the media and to want information about disease transmission, and less likely to want to discuss topics such as support and legal issues.

CONCLUSIONS: The calls received by the Hep C Helpline indicate that the campaign was a useful way to generate public interest about hepatitis C. The findings indicate that telephone helplines are an information dissemination strategy that can be coupled effectively with mass media campaigns about this issue.

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