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1.  Developing cancer warning statements for alcoholic beverages 
BMC Public Health  2014;14(1):786.
There is growing evidence of the increased cancer risk associated with alcohol consumption, but this is not well understood by the general public. This study investigated the acceptability among drinkers of cancer warning statements for alcoholic beverages.
Six focus groups were conducted with Australian drinkers to develop a series of cancer-related warning statements for alcohol products. Eleven cancer warning statements and one general health warning statement were subsequently tested on 2,168 drinkers via an online survey. The statements varied by message frame (positive vs negative), cancer reference (general vs specific), and the way causality was communicated (‘increases risk of cancer’ vs ‘can cause cancer’).
Overall, responses to the cancer statements were neutral to favorable, indicating that they are unlikely to encounter high levels of negative reaction from the community if introduced on alcoholic beverages. Females, younger respondents, and those with higher levels of education generally found the statements to be more believable, convincing, and personally relevant. Positively framed messages, those referring to specific forms of cancer, and those using ‘increases risk of cancer’ performed better than negatively framed messages, those referring to cancer in general, and those using the term ‘can cause cancer’.
Cancer warning statements on alcoholic beverages constitute a potential means of increasing awareness about the relationship between alcohol consumption and cancer risk.
PMCID: PMC4133604  PMID: 25087010
Alcohol; Warning labels; Prevention; Attitudes
2.  Initial impact of the new Australian tobacco health warnings on knowledge and beliefs 
Tobacco Control  1997;6(4):317-325.
BACKGROUND: New health warnings and contents labelling on tobacco products were introduced in Australia in 1995. OBJECTIVE: To assess awareness of the new warnings at a time when a mix of packs with old and new warnings were being sold and on changes in relevant knowledge and attitudes from shortly before the implementation of the new warnings. DESIGN AND SUBJECTS: Approximately 500 smokers and 500 non- smokers were surveyed in December 1994, before implementation of the new warnings. Similar numbers were also surveyed in May 1995, part-way through implementation. Respondents were selected by random-digit dialling of telephone numbers in Australia. Smokers were oversampled. In addition, 243 smokers from the initial survey were re-surveyed in May 1995. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Awareness of change to health warnings, knowledge of health warnings and tobacco smoke constituents, beliefs about the health effects of smoking, and perceived impact of the warnings. RESULTS: There was high awareness of the new warnings, particularly among smokers, with the increased size of the new warnings being the most salient feature. More than a third of smokers reported being affected by the warnings, with reductions in consumption and talking about warnings being the most common effects. Among smokers, there was an increase in knowledge about the main constituents of tobacco smoke. The number of types of health effects mentioned also increased as did the number of warnings correctly recalled. Overall beliefs about the six warning statements became stronger. Few changes were found for non-smokers. The knowledge and recall effects were replicated in the re-contact subsample, but the belief changes were not. CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest the new health warnings are resulting in better informed smokers and thus suggest that informative health warnings can play an important role in better informing consumers. 

PMCID: PMC1759588  PMID: 9583630
3.  Smokers' recall of Australian graphic cigarette packet warnings & awareness of associated health effects, 2005-2008 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:238.
In 2006, Australia introduced graphic cigarette packet warnings. The new warnings include one of 14 pictures, many depicting tobacco-related pathology. The warnings were introduced in two sets; Set A in March and Set B from November. This study explores their impact on smokers' beliefs about smoking related illnesses. This study also examines the varying impact of different warnings, to see whether warnings with visceral images have greater impact on smokers' beliefs than other images.
Representative samples of South Australian smokers were interviewed in four independent cross-sectional omnibus surveys; in 2005 (n = 504), 2006 (n = 525), 2007 (n = 414) and 2008 (n = 464).
Unprompted recall of new graphic cigarette warnings was high in the months following their introduction, demonstrating that smokers' had been exposed to them. Smokers also demonstrated an increase in awareness about smoking-related diseases specific to the warning messages. Warnings that conveyed new information and had emotive images demonstrated greater impact on recall and smokers' beliefs than more familiar information and less emotive images.
Overall graphic pack warnings have had the intended impact on smokers. Some have greater impact than others. The implications for policy makers in countries introducing similar warnings are that fresh messaging and visceral images have the greatest impact.
PMCID: PMC3096906  PMID: 21496314
4.  Embedded Alcohol Messages in Television Series: The Interactive Effect of Warnings and Audience Connectedness on Viewers' Alcohol Beliefs* 
This research investigates whether warning viewers about the presence of embedded messages in the content of a television episode affects viewers' drinking beliefs and whether audi ence connectedness moderates the warning's impact.
Two hun dred fifty college students participated in a laboratory experiment approximating a real-life television viewing experience. They viewed an actual television series episode containing embedded alcohol messages, and their subsequent beliefs about alcohol consequences were measured. Experimental conditions differed based on a 2 (Connectedness Level: low vs high) × 2 (Timing of the Warning: before or after the episode) × 2 (Emphasis of Warning: advertising vs health message) design. Connectedness was measured, and the timing and emphasis of the warnings were manipulated. The design also included a control condition where there was no warning.
The findings indicate that warning view ers about embedded messages in the content of a program can yield sig nificant differences in viewers' beliefs about alcohol. However, the warning's impact differs depending on the viewers' level of connectedness to the program. In particular, in comparison with the no-warning control condition, the advertising prewarning produced lower positive beliefs about alcohol and its consequences but only for the low-connected viewers. Highly connected viewers were not affected by a warning emphasizing advertising messages embedded in the program, but a warning emphasizing health produced significantly higher negative be liefs about drinking than in the control condition.
The presence of many positive portrayals of drinking and alcohol product placements in television series has led many to suggest ways to counter their influence. However, advocates of warnings should be conscious of their differential impact on high- and low-connected viewers.
PMCID: PMC3894051  PMID: 18432390
5.  Young Adults’ Perceptions of Cigarette Warning Labels in the United States and Canada 
Preventing Chronic Disease  2007;4(2):A27.
For the past 20 years, there have been no changes to the text-only cigarette warning labels in the United States. During this same time period, other countries placed large graphic warning labels on cigarette packages. The purpose of this study was to investigate the reactions of U.S. young adult smokers and nonsmokers aged 18 to 24 years to Canadian cigarette label text and graphic warnings. The study focused on determining their perceptions and the potential impact of Canadian labels on smoking, and study participants were asked for suggestions for modifications of U.S. cigarette warning labels so they would be effective for smoking deterrence and cessation.
During January and February 2002, 11 focus groups consisting of 54 smokers and 41 nonsmokers were conducted in the Detroit metropolitan area. Current smokers were defined as those who had smoked a cigarette within the past 30 days. Participants were asked about their knowledge and perceptions of current U.S. cigarette warning labels and their impressions of Canadian cigarette warning labels.
A content analysis and a word index were applied to the transcripts of all focus groups to identify and clarify themes and domains that appeared in group discussions and to compare results across different groups.
Focus group participants reported that Canadian cigarette warning labels were more visible and informative than U.S. cigarette warning labels. Messages perceived to be relevant to smokers were considered effective. Education level did not appear related to how participants responded to warning labels. There were some differences for warning labels that had sex-specific messages.
Warning labels are one component of comprehensive tobacco control and smoking cessation efforts. Stronger warnings on cigarette packages need to be part of a larger U.S. public health educational effort.
PMCID: PMC1893125  PMID: 17362618
6.  Do Alcohol Warning Labels Influence Men’s and Women’s Attempts to Deter Others from Driving When Intoxicated? 
Research on the federally mandated alcohol warning label has found mixed results, but some findings are consistent with a modest influence on precautionary behaviors to reduce drinkers’ self-reported drunk driving. We hypothesized that warnings would also influence the likelihood of intervening to deter other’s driving after drinking. Using data from 1376 adult drinkers in a US national survey, a conceptual model reflecting effects of exposure to the label’s drunk driving message on taking actions to avert another's driving under the influence was tested in a structural equation modeling framework. For males and females, in structural models with drinking and handling of alcoholic beverages potentially affecting both message recall and intervening, the predicted relationships were found between message recall and actions to deter another’s drinking driving. This finding suggests that an important preventive effect of the alcohol warning label may be to legitimate collateral’s attempts to avert another’s drunk driving.
PMCID: PMC3008779  PMID: 22473433
7.  Results of a randomized controlled trial to assess the effects of a mobile SMS-based intervention on treatment adherence in HIV/AIDS-infected Brazilian women and impressions and satisfaction with respect to incoming messages 
To assess whether a warning system based on mobile SMS messages increases the adherence of HIV-infected Brazilian women to antiretroviral drug-based treatment regimens and their impressions and satisfaction with respect to incoming messages.
A randomized controlled trial was conducted from May 2009 to April 2010 with HIV-infected Brazilian women. All participants (n = 21) had a monthly multidisciplinary attendance; each participant was followed over a 4-month period, when adherence measures were obtained. Participants in the intervention group (n = 8) received SMS messages 30 min before their last scheduled time for a dose of medicine during the day. The messages were sent every Saturday and Sunday and on alternate days during the working week. Participants in the control group (n = 13) did not receive messages.
Self-reported adherence, pill counting, microelectronic monitors (MEMS) and an interview about the impressions and satisfaction with respect to incoming messages.
The HIV Alert System (HIVAS) was developed over 7 months during 2008 and 2009. After the study period, self-reported adherence indicated that 11 participants (84.62%) remained compliant in the control group (adherence exceeding 95%), whereas all 8 participants in the intervention group (100.00%) remained compliant. In contrast, the counting pills method indicated that the number of compliant participants was 5 (38.46%) for the control group and 4 (50.00%) for the intervention group. Microelectronic monitoring indicated that 6 participants in the control group (46.15%) were adherent during the entire 4-month period compared to 6 participants in the intervention group (75.00%). According to the feedback of the 8 participants who completed the research in the intervention group, along with the feedback of 3 patients who received SMS for less than 4 months, that is, did not complete the study, 9 (81.81%) believed that the SMS messages aided them in treatment adherence, and 10 (90.90%) responded that they would like to continue receiving SMS messages.
SMS messaging can help Brazilian women living with HIV/AIDS to adhere to antiretroviral therapy for a period of at least 4 months. In general, the results are encouraging because the SMS messages stimulated more participants in the intervention group to be adherent to their treatment, and the patients were satisfied with the messages received, which were seen as reminders, incentives and signs of affection by the health clinic for a marginalized population.
PMCID: PMC3766367  PMID: 22296762
Adherence; Compliance; HIV; AIDS; Reminding; Cell phones; Wireless text messaging; SMS
8.  Perceptions of anti-smoking messages amongst high school students in Pakistan 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:117.
Surveys have provided evidence that tobacco use is widely prevalent amongst the youth in Pakistan. Several reviews have evaluated the effectiveness of various tobacco control programs, however, few have taken into account the perceptions of students themselves regarding these measures. The aim of this study was to determine the most effective anti-smoking messages that can be delivered to high-school students in Pakistan, based on their self-rated perceptions. It also aimed to assess the impact of pictorial/multi-media messages compared with written health warnings and to discover differences in perceptions of smokers to those of non-smokers to health warning messages.
This study was carried out in five major cities of Pakistan in private English-medium schools. A presentation was delivered at each school that highlighted the well-established health consequences of smoking using both written health warnings and pictorial/multi-media health messages. Following the presentation, the participants filled out a graded questionnaire form, using which they rated the risk-factors and messages that they thought were most effective in stopping or preventing them from smoking. The Friedman test was used to rank responses to each of the questions in the form. The Wilcoxon Signed Rank test used to analyze the impact of pictorial/multi-media messages over written statements. The Mann Whitney U test was used to compare responses of smokers with those of non-smokers.
Picture of an oral cavity cancer, videos of a cancer patient using an electronic voice box and a patient on a ventilator, were perceived to be the most effective anti-smoking messages by students. Addiction, harming others through passive smoking and impact of smoking on disposable incomes were perceived to be less effective messages. Pictorial/multi-media messages were perceived to be more effective than written health warnings. Health warnings were perceived as less effective amongst smokers compared to non-smokers.
Graphic pictorial/multi-media health warnings that depict cosmetic and functional distortions were perceived as effective anti-smoking messages by English-medium high school students in Pakistan. Smokers demonstrated greater resistance to health promotion messages compared with non-smokers. Targeted interventions for high school students may be beneficial.
PMCID: PMC3051908  PMID: 21333006
9.  Nonsmokers’ responses to new warning labels on smokeless tobacco and electronic cigarettes: an experimental study 
BMC Public Health  2014;14(1):997.
Graphic warning labels are a tobacco control best practice that is mandated in the US for cigarettes under the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. However, smokeless tobacco products are not required to carry graphic warning labels, and as of September 2014, electronic cigarettes in the US carry no warning labels and are aggressively marketed, including with “reduced harm” or “FDA Approved” messages.
In this online experiment, 483 US adult non-users of tobacco were randomized to view print advertisements for moist snuff, snus, and e-cigarettes with either warning labels (current warning label, graphic warning label) or “endorsements” (a “lower risk” label proposed by a tobacco company, an “FDA Approved” label) or control (tobacco advertisement with no label, advertisement for a non-tobacco consumer products). Main outcome measures included changes in perceived harm, positive attitudes towards, openness to using, and interest in a free sample of moist snuff, snus, and e-cigarettes.
The graphic warning label increased perceived harm of moist snuff and e-cigarettes. “Lower risk” and “FDA Approved” labels decreased perceived harm of moist snuff and snus respectively. Current warning label and graphic warning label significantly lowered positive attitudes towards e-cigarettes. In this sample of non-users of tobacco, 15% were interested in a free sample of alternative tobacco products (predominantly e-cigarettes). Proportion of participants interested in a free sample did not differ significantly across the conditions, but those interested in a free sample had significantly lower perceptions of harm of corresponding tobacco products.
Regulatory agencies should not allow “lower risk” warning labels, which have similar effects to the “FDA Approved” label, which is prohibited, and should consider implementing graphic warning labels for smokeless tobacco products and e-cigarettes.
PMCID: PMC4190284  PMID: 25253295
Tobacco; Smokeless tobacco; Electronic cigarette; Warning labels; Snus
10.  Positive impact of Australian ‘blindness’ tobacco warning labels: findings from the ITC four country survey 
Smokers with greater knowledge of the health effects of smoking are more likely to quit and remain abstinent. Australia has communicated the causal association of smoking and blindness since the late 1990s. In March 2007, Australia became the first country to include a pictorial warning label on cigarette packages with the message that smoking causes blindness. The current study tested the hypothesis that the introduction of this warning label increased smokers’ knowledge of this important health effect.
Six waves of the International Tobacco Control Four Country Survey were conducted, as a telephone survey of 17,472 adult smokers in Australia, Canada, United Kingdom and the United States, with three waves before and three waves after the blindness health warning was introduced in Australia. The survey measured adult smokers’ knowledge that smoking causes blindness.
Australian smokers were significantly more likely to report that smoking causes blindness, compared to Canadian, UK and US smokers, where there were neither health campaigns nor health warnings labels about blindness. After the introduction of the blindness warning, Australian smokers were more likely than before the blindness warning to report that they know that smoking causes blindness (62 versus 49 per cent; OR = 1.68, 95% CI: 1.03, 2.76, p = 0.04). In Australia, smokers aged over 55 years were less likely than those aged 18 to 24 to report that smoking causes blindness (OR = 0.43; 95% CI: 0.29, 0.62, p < 0.001).
While more smokers report that smoking causes blindness in Australia compared to other countries, which have not had national social marketing campaigns, further gains in knowledge were found after pictorial warning labels were introduced in Australia. Findings suggest there is still a need to educate the public about the causal association of smoking and blindness. More education may be needed to redress the knowledge gap in older Australian smokers as the incidence of age-related macular degeneration increases with age.
PMCID: PMC4009362  PMID: 22882362
age-related macular degeneration; cessation; health education; public health; smoking
11.  Positive and instructive anti-smoking messages speak to older smokers: a focus group study 
Tobacco Induced Diseases  2015;13(1):2.
Smokers over the age of 45 are the only group with an increase in smoking prevalence, are the least likely to quit smoking, and bear most of the burden of tobacco-related disease. Research characterizing older adult perceptions of warning labels and anti-tobacco messages has not been reported in the literature. The purpose of this study was to describe whether older smokers perceived warning labels and anti-tobacco messages as effective for the promotion of smoking cessation. A secondary aim was to explore what types of messages and message delivery formats are most relevant to older adult smokers.
This focus group study is part of a larger study to characterize older smokers’ perceptions of the risks and benefits associated with conventional and emerging tobacco products and determine the extent to which these perceptions relate to exposure to pro- and anti-tobacco messages. From April 2013 to August 2014 we conducted eight focus groups with 51 current and former smokers a focus group study in urban and suburban California. A semi-structured format about current use of conventional and emerging tobacco products was used. Participants were asked to recall and comment on examples of warning labels and anti-tobacco messages. Data were transcribed and thematically coded.
Warning labels and anti-smoking messages were seen as ineffective for smoking cessation motivation among older California smokers. Positive framed anti-tobacco messages were identified as most effective. Text-only warnings were seen as ineffective due to desensitizing effects of repeated exposure. Negative messages were described as easy to ignore, and some trigger urges to smoke. Older adults are knowledgeable about the risks and health effects of smoking. However, they tend to be less knowledgeable about the benefits of cessation and may underestimate their ability to quit.
These findings suggest that messages with a positive frame that outline immediate and long-term benefits of cessation would be an effective approach for long-term smokers.
Current anti-tobacco messaging was generally not seen as effective for smoking cessation among long-term smokers.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12971-015-0027-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4316656  PMID: 25653578
Older smokers; Tobacco; Smoking; Tobacco warnings
12.  Impact of smokeless tobacco packaging on perceptions and beliefs among youth, young adults, and adults in the U.S: findings from an internet-based cross-sectional survey 
Research demonstrates that tobacco packaging elements (including health warning labels, descriptive characteristics, and corporate branding) are associated with knowledge of health risks and product appeal with cigarettes. Yet, little research has assessed this with smokeless tobacco (SLT) packaging. This study evaluates the association between three SLT packaging elements with knowledge of health risks and perceptions of novelty and appeal. Additionally, we assess how effects of these messages may differ across age groups, including youth (14-17 years), young adults (18-25 years), and older adults (26-65 years).
1000 participants were administered a web-based survey in 2010 and shown three sets of SLT packs in random order, varied by descriptor (flavor descriptor vs. none), warning label format (graphic vs. text), and corporate branding (branded vs. plain packaging). Participants rated the packs compared with “no difference” on appeal, novelty, and risk perceptions associated with product use. Chi-square tests were used to test for significant differences in pack selections. Multinomial regression was employed to evaluate the association between effects of packaging elements and participant age.
More respondents selected the pack with the graphic warning label as the pack to make them consider the health risks associated with SLT use, attract their attention, and be least attractive to a smoker. The product with the text warning label was the product someone their age would want to be seen using and would appeal to peers. The SLT pack with the flavor descriptor was not associated with health risks associated with product use. The pack with corporate branding was selected as more appealing, to attract attention, and one they would want to be seen using; the plain pack was less attractive to smokers. Youth and young adults were more likely to indicate that pack elements affected their perceptions of appeal and risk associated with SLT products.
These results suggest that SLT pack characteristics have a measurable effect on perceptions of health risk and product appeal. Future research should assess these findings in the context of harm reduction. Specifically, research is needed to determine whether pack elements on SLT products can effectively convey risk and harm.
PMCID: PMC3942180  PMID: 24433301
Smokeless tobacco; Tobacco packaging; Health warning labels; Tobacco marketing
13.  Ethnic Comparison of Attitudes and Beliefs About Cigarette Smoking 
To determine if hypothesized differences in attitudes and beliefs about cigarette smoking between Latino and non-Latino white smokers are independent of years of formal education and number of cigarettes smoked per day.
Cross-sectional survey using a random digit dial telephone method.
San Francisco census tracts with at least 10% Latinos in the 1990 Census.
Three hundred twelve Latinos (198 men and 114 women) and 354 non-Latino whites (186 men and 168 women), 18 to 65 years of age, who were current cigarette smokers participated.
Self-reports of cigarette smoking behavior, antecedents to smoking, reasons to quit smoking, and reasons to continue smoking were the measures. Latino smokers were younger (36.6 vs 39.6 years, p < .01), had fewer years of education (11.0 vs 14.3 years, p < .001), and smoked on average fewer cigarettes per day (9.7 vs 20.1, p < .001). Compared with whites, Latino smokers were less likely to report smoking “almost always or often” after 13 of 17 antecedents (each p < .001), and more likely to consider it important to quit for 12 of 15 reasons (each p < .001). In multivariate analyses after adjusting for gender, age, education, income, and number of cigarettes smoked per day, Latino ethnicity was a significant predictor of being less likely to smoke while talking on the telephone (odds ratio [OR] 0.41; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.26, 0.64), drinking alcoholic beverages (OR 0.66; 95% CI 0.44, 0.99), after eating (OR 0.55, 95% CI 0.37, 0.81), or at a bar (OR 0.62, 95% CI 0.41, 0.94), and a significant predictor of being more likely to smoke at a party (OR 1.72; 95% CI 1.14, 2.60). Latino ethnicity was a significant predictor of considering quitting important because of being criticized by family (OR 1.93; 95% CI 1.26, 2.98), burning clothes (OR 1.57; 95% CI 1.02, 2.42), damaging children's health (OR 1.67; 95% CI 1.08, 2.57), bad breath (OR 2.07; 95% CI 1.40, 3.06), family pressure (OR 1.67; 95% CI 1.10, 2.60), and being a good example to children (OR 1.83; 95% CI 1.21, 2.76).
Differences in attitudes and beliefs about cigarette smoking between Latinos and whites are independent of education and number of cigarettes smoked. We recommend that these ethnic differences be incorporated into smoking cessation interventions for Latino smokers.
PMCID: PMC1496925  PMID: 9541373
cigarette smoking; Latinos; Hispanics; culture
14.  The Effectiveness of Mobile-Health Technology-Based Health Behaviour Change or Disease Management Interventions for Health Care Consumers: A Systematic Review 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(1):e1001362.
Caroline Free and colleagues systematically review a fast-moving field, that of the effectiveness of mobile technology interventions delivered to healthcare consumers, and conclude that high-quality, adequately powered trials of optimized interventions are required to evaluate effects on objective outcomes.
Mobile technologies could be a powerful media for providing individual level support to health care consumers. We conducted a systematic review to assess the effectiveness of mobile technology interventions delivered to health care consumers.
Methods and Findings
We searched for all controlled trials of mobile technology-based health interventions delivered to health care consumers using MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, Global Health, Web of Science, Cochrane Library, UK NHS HTA (Jan 1990–Sept 2010). Two authors extracted data on allocation concealment, allocation sequence, blinding, completeness of follow-up, and measures of effect. We calculated effect estimates and used random effects meta-analysis. We identified 75 trials. Fifty-nine trials investigated the use of mobile technologies to improve disease management and 26 trials investigated their use to change health behaviours. Nearly all trials were conducted in high-income countries. Four trials had a low risk of bias. Two trials of disease management had low risk of bias; in one, antiretroviral (ART) adherence, use of text messages reduced high viral load (>400 copies), with a relative risk (RR) of 0.85 (95% CI 0.72–0.99), but no statistically significant benefit on mortality (RR 0.79 [95% CI 0.47–1.32]). In a second, a PDA based intervention increased scores for perceived self care agency in lung transplant patients. Two trials of health behaviour management had low risk of bias. The pooled effect of text messaging smoking cessation support on biochemically verified smoking cessation was (RR 2.16 [95% CI 1.77–2.62]). Interventions for other conditions showed suggestive benefits in some cases, but the results were not consistent. No evidence of publication bias was demonstrated on visual or statistical examination of the funnel plots for either disease management or health behaviours. To address the limitation of the older search, we also reviewed more recent literature.
Text messaging interventions increased adherence to ART and smoking cessation and should be considered for inclusion in services. Although there is suggestive evidence of benefit in some other areas, high quality adequately powered trials of optimised interventions are required to evaluate effects on objective outcomes.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors’ Summary
Every year, millions of people die from cardiovascular diseases (diseases of the heart and circulation), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (a long-term lung disease), lung cancer, HIV infection, and diabetes. These diseases are increasingly important causes of mortality (death) in low- and middle-income countries and are responsible for nearly 40% of deaths in high-income countries. For all these diseases, individuals can adopt healthy behaviors that help prevent disease onset. For example, people can lower their risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease by maintaining a healthy body weight, and, if they are smokers, they can reduce their risk of lung cancer and cardiovascular disease by giving up cigarettes. In addition, optimal treatment of existing diseases can reduce mortality and morbidity (illness). Thus, in people who are infected with HIV, antiretroviral therapy delays the progression of HIV infection and the onset of AIDS, and in people who have diabetes, good blood sugar control can prevent retinopathy (a type of blindness) and other serious complications of diabetes.
Why Was This Study Done?
Health-care providers need effective ways to encourage "health-care consumers" to make healthy lifestyle choices and to self-manage chronic diseases. The amount of information, encouragement and support that can be conveyed to individuals during face-to-face consultations or through traditional media such as leaflets is limited, but mobile technologies such as mobile phones and portable computers have the potential to transform the delivery of health messages. These increasingly popular technologies—more than two-thirds of the world's population now owns a mobile phone—can be used to deliver health messages to people anywhere and at the most relevant times. For example, smokers trying to quit smoking can be sent regular text messages to sustain their motivation, but can also use text messaging to request extra support when it is needed. But is "mHealth," the provision of health-related services using mobile communication technology, an effective way to deliver health messages to health-care consumers? In this systematic review (a study that uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic), the researchers assess the effectiveness of mobile technology-based health behavior change interventions and disease management interventions delivered to health-care consumers.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 75 controlled trials (studies that compare the outcomes of people who do and do not receive an intervention) of mobile technology-based health interventions delivered to health-care consumers that met their predefined criteria. Twenty-six trials investigated the use of mobile technologies to change health behaviors, 59 investigated their use in disease management, most were of low quality, and nearly all were undertaken in high-income countries. In one high-quality trial that used text messages to improve adherence to antiretroviral therapy among HIV-positive patients in Kenya, the intervention significantly reduced the patients’ viral load but did not significantly reduce mortality (the observed reduction in deaths may have happened by chance). In two high-quality UK trials, a smoking intervention based on text messaging (txt2stop) more than doubled biochemically verified smoking cessation. Other lower-quality trials indicated that using text messages to encourage physical activity improved diabetes control but had no effect on body weight. Combined diet and physical activity text messaging interventions also had no effect on weight, whereas interventions for other conditions showed suggestive benefits in some but not all cases.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings provide mixed evidence for the effectiveness of health intervention delivery to health-care consumers using mobile technologies. Moreover, they highlight the need for additional high-quality controlled trials of this mHealth application, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. Specifically, the demonstration that text messaging interventions increased adherence to antiretroviral therapy in a low-income setting and increased smoking cessation in a high-income setting provides some support for the inclusion of these two interventions in health-care services in similar settings. However, the effects of these two interventions need to be established in other settings and their cost-effectiveness needs to be measured before they are widely implemented. Finally, for other mobile technology–based interventions designed to change health behaviors or to improve self-management of chronic diseases, the results of this systematic review suggest that the interventions need to be optimized before further trials are undertaken to establish their clinical benefits.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
A related PLOS Medicine Research Article by Free et al. investigates the ability of mHealth technologies to improve health-care service delivery processes
Wikipedia has a page on mHealth (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
mHealth: New horizons for health through mobile technologies is a global survey of mHealth prepared by the World Health Organization’s Global Observatory for eHealth (eHealth is health-care practice supported by electronic processes and communication)
The mHealth in Low-Resource Settings website, which is maintained by the Netherlands Royal Tropical Institute, provides information on the current use, potential, and limitations of mHealth in low-resource settings
More information about Txt2stop is available, the UK National Health Service Choices website provides an analysis of the Txt2stop trial and what its results mean, and the UK National Health Service Smokefree website provides a link to a Quit App for the iPhone
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has launched a text messaging service that delivers regular health tips and alerts to mobile phones
PMCID: PMC3548655  PMID: 23349621
15.  Awareness of the Warning Signs, Risk Factors, and Treatment for Tuberculosis among Urban Nigerians 
Objectives. To determine the awareness of the warning signs, risk factors, and treatment of tuberculosis among urban Nigerians. Methods. This was a cross-sectional survey among 574 adults in Ilorin, Nigeria. Semistructured questionnaire was administered by trained interviewers to obtain information about awareness of tuberculosis warning signs, risk factors, and treatment. Results. Majority of the subjects (71.4%) were aware of at least one warning sign of tuberculosis. Cough (66.2%), weight loss (38.0%), and haemoptysis (30.7%) were the most identified warning signs. The predictors of awareness of warning sign were increasing age (r + 0.12), higher family income (r + 0.10), higher level of education (r + 0.10), and belonging to Christian faith (r + 0.11). Awareness of risk factors for tuberculosis was higher for tobacco smokers (77.0%) and history of contact with a case of TB (76.0%). Less than half were aware of HIV infection (49.8%), alcohol consumption (42.5%), chronic kidney disease (40.4%), extremes of ages (39.4%), cancers (36.9%), and diabetes mellitus (27.5%) as risk factors for TB. Tuberculosis was reported to be curable by 74.6% of the subjects and 67.9% knew that there are medications for treatment of tuberculosis, while 11.5% knew the duration of treatment. Conclusion. This study has revealed that the awareness of HIV and noncommunicable diseases as risk factors for TB is poor. This study has therefore demonstrated the need for health education programs that will emphasize recognition, identification, and modification of risk factor for TB.
PMCID: PMC3557638  PMID: 23401764
16.  Knowledge about health risks and drinking behavior among Hispanic women who are or have been of childbearing age 1 
Addictive behaviors  2007;32(10):2335-2339.
In this study, 99 Mexican American women colonia residents who are or had been of childbearing age were assessed for English language skills, alcohol use, beliefs about health risks related to drinking, and awareness of warning labels on alcohol beverage containers. English language skills significantly predicted participants' ability to remember health warnings on beverage containers whereas greater awareness of nutritional information on labels was associated with lesser amounts of alcohol consumed. Beliefs that drinking during pregnancy is helpful and not associated with liver and cognitive problems were significantly associated with higher alcohol consumption, and beliefs that drinking helps when pregnant along with a reported history of drinking during a previous pregnancy significantly predicted self-reported drinking during a most recent pregnancy. The study represents a first step toward understanding how beliefs about drinking risks may be associated with alcohol use among Hispanic women.
PMCID: PMC2074884  PMID: 17324525
alcohol; Hispanic; women; health warning labels; pregnancy
17.  Pictorial Health Warnings on Cigarette Packs in the United States: An Experimental Evaluation of the Proposed FDA Warnings 
Nicotine & Tobacco Research  2012;15(1):93-102.
In 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) developed 36 proposed health warnings for cigarette packages, from which 9 were subsequently selected for implementation. The current study aimed to evaluate the perceived efficacy of the 36 proposed FDA warnings.
Web-based surveys were conducted with 783 adult smokers and 510 youth in United States. Participants were randomized to view and rate two sets of 6–7 warnings, each set corresponding to one of nine health effect statements required under the Tobacco Control Act. Warnings included all 36 FDA-proposed warnings and additional warnings for comparison.
Youth and adults rated individual warnings similarly; in all cases where differences were found, youth perceived warnings as more effective. Comparisons on specific elements indicated that warnings were perceived as more effective if they were: full color (vs. black and white), featured real people (vs. comic book style), contained graphic images (vs. nongraphic), and included a telephone “quitline” number or personal information. Few sociodemographic differences were observed in overall perceived effectiveness: younger respondents, non-White respondents, and smokers intending to quit rated warnings higher.
Seven of the nine health warnings selected by the FDA for implementation were among the proposed warnings rated as most effective in the current study. However, the warning(s) added for comparison were rated higher than the FDA-selected warning for five of the nine sets, suggesting some warnings could be improved for greater impact. The findings support the inclusion of a telephone “quitline” number and reinforce the importance of depicting “real” people and health effects.
PMCID: PMC3524059  PMID: 22505660
18.  The evolution of health warning labels on cigarette packs: the role of precedents, and tobacco industry strategies to block diffusion 
Tobacco control  2012;23(1):10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2012-050541.
To analyse the evolution and diffusion of health warnings on cigarette packs around the world, including tobacco industry attempts to block this diffusion.
We analysed tobacco industry documents and public sources to construct a database on the global evolution and diffusion of health warning labels from 1966 to 2012, and also analysed industry strategies.
Health warning labels, especially labels with graphic elements, threaten the tobacco industry because they are a low-cost, effective measure to reduce smoking. Multinational tobacco companies did not object to voluntary innocuous warnings with ambiguous health messages, in part because they saw them as offering protection from lawsuits and local packaging regulations. The companies worked systematically at the international level to block or weaken warnings once stronger more specific warnings began to appear in the 1970s. Since 1985 in Iceland, the tobacco industry has been aware of the effectiveness of graphic health warning labels (GWHL). The industry launched an all-out attack in the early 1990s to prevent GHWLs, and was successful in delaying GHWLs internationally for nearly 10 years.
Beginning in 2005, as a result of the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), GHWLs began to spread. Effective implementation of FCTC labelling provisions has stimulated diffusion of strong health warning labels despite industry opposition.
PMCID: PMC3725195  PMID: 23092884
19.  Communicating Risk to Smokers: The Impact of Health Warnings on Cigarette Packages 
Health warnings on cigarette packages provide smokers with universal access to information on the risks of smoking. However, warnings vary considerably among countries, ranging from graphic depictions of disease on Canadian packages to obscure text warnings in the U.S. The current study examined the effectiveness of health warnings on cigarette packages in four countries.
Quasi-experimental design. Telephone surveys were conducted with representative cohorts of adult smokers (N= 14,975): Canada (n =3687); the U.S. (n =4273); the UK (n= 3634); and Australia (n =3381). Surveys were conducted between 2002 and 2005, before and at three time points following new warnings on UK packages.
. At Wave 1, Canadian smokers reported the highest levels of awareness and impact for health warnings among the four countries, followed by Australian smokers. Following the implementation of new UK warnings at Wave 2, UK smokers reported greater levels of awareness and impact, although Canadian smokers continued to report higher levels of impact after adjusting for the implementation date. U.S. smokers reported the lowest levels of effectiveness for almost every measure recorded at each survey wave.
Large, comprehensive warnings on cigarette packages are more likely to be noticed and rated as effective by smokers. Changes in health warnings are also associated with increased effectiveness. Health warnings on U.S. packages, which were last updated in 1984, were associated with the least effectiveness.
PMCID: PMC1868456  PMID: 17296472
20.  Retail promotions and perceptions of R.J. Reynolds' novel dissolvable tobacco in a US test market 
With declining cigarette sales, tobacco manufacturers have been developing and marketing new smokeless products, such as R. J. Reynolds' dissolvable tobacco, Camel Sticks, Strips and Orbs. This study assessed the availability, price and point-of-purchase promotional strategies for Camel Dissolvables, and investigated consumer awareness, interest and perception of these products in the Indiana test market.
An exploratory retail audit of point-of-purchase promotions was conducted in a random sample of retailers from 6 store categories (n = 81) in the test market area. Data included: store type, location, product placement, forms/flavors carried, price, types and locations of advertisements and promotions, and ad messages. An Awareness-Attitude-Usage (AAU) survey was used to gauge consumer awareness and knowledge of tobacco products including Camel Dissolvables. Respondents were shown promotional materials from a package onsert and perceptions and interest in the Camel Dissolvables were assessed. An Intended Target Survey (ITS) compared subjects' perceptions of ad targets for several non-tobacco products, as well as Camel Snus, Camel No. 9 and Camel Dissolvables. Respondents were asked to identify each ad's intended target category, perceived targetedness, and purchase intent.
The products were carried by 46% of stores, most frequently gas stations (100%) and convenience stores (75%). They were shelved near smokeless tobacco (70%), cigarettes (25%) or candy (5%). Prices ranged from $3.59 -$4.19 per package; most stores carried at least 1 promotional item. Ad messages included: "Dissolvable Tobacco" (60%). "Free Trial" (24%), "Special Price" (24%), "What's Your Style?" (22%). At 14% of stores, free trial packs of Camel Dissolvables were offered with another Camel purchase. Awareness was reported by 42% of respondents (n = 243), and trial by 3%. Consumer interest was very low, but younger respondents (< 40 years) were more familiar with Camel Dissolvables (60% vs. 45% for those > 40 years, p < .01). Males, as well as current and former smokers had higher rates of interest and trial; only 1% of never smokers reported trial. In the ITS, only for the 3 tobacco product ads, was perceived targetedness for smokers significantly higher than for non-smokers. Smokers and nonsmokers perceived that the ads targeted smokers.
Current retail promotional strategies for Camel Sticks, Strips & Orbs appear to be targeting a select audience, primarily current smokers. Overall, consumer awareness, interest and trial were low.
PMCID: PMC3123190  PMID: 21569637
21.  Adult Smokers’ Reactions to Pictorial Health Warning Labels on Cigarette Packs in Thailand and Moderating Effects of Type of Cigarette Smoked: Findings From the International Tobacco Control Southeast Asia Survey 
Nicotine & Tobacco Research  2013;15(8):1339-1347.
In this study, we aimed to examine, in Thailand, the impact on smokers’ reported awareness of and their cognitive and behavioral reactions following the change from text-only to pictorial warnings printed on cigarette packs. We also sought to explore differences by type of cigarette smoked (roll-your-own [RYO] vs. factory-made [FM] cigarettes).
Data came from the International Tobacco Control Southeast Asia Survey, conducted in Thailand and Malaysia, where a representative sample of 2,000 adult smokers from each country were recruited and followed up. We analyzed data from one wave before (Wave 1) and two waves after the implementation of the new pictorial warnings (two sets introduced at Waves 2 and 3, respectively) in Thailand, with Malaysia, having text-only warnings, serving as a control.
Following the warning label change in Thailand, smokers’ reported awareness and their cognitive and behavioral reactions increased markedly, with the cognitive and behavioral effects sustained at the next follow-up. By contrast, no significant change was observed in Malaysia over the same period. Compared to smokers who smoke any FM cigarettes, smokers of only RYO cigarettes reported a lower salience but greater cognitive reactions to the new pictorial warnings.
The new Thai pictorial health warning labels have led to a greater impact than the text-only warning labels, and refreshing the pictorial images may have helped sustain effects. This finding provides strong support for introducing pictorial warning labels in low- and middle-income countries, where the benefits may be even greater, given the lower literacy rates and generally lower levels of readily available health information on the risks of smoking.
PMCID: PMC3715385  PMID: 23291637
22.  Effectiveness of cigarette warning labels in informing smokers about the risks of smoking: findings from the International Tobacco Control (ITC) Four Country Survey 
Tobacco Control  2006;15(Suppl 3):iii19-iii25.
Health warnings on cigarette packages are among the most common means of communicating the health risks of smoking. However, few studies have evaluated the impact of package warnings on consumer knowledge about tobacco risks.
The aim of the current study was to use nationally representative samples of adult smokers from the United States (USA), the United Kingdom (UK), Canada (CAN), and Australia (AUS) from the International Tobacco Control Four Country Survey (ITC‐4) to examine variations in smokers' knowledge about tobacco risks and the impact of package warnings.
A telephone survey was conducted with 9058 adult smokers from the following countries: USA (n  =  2138), UK (n  =  2401), CAN (n  =  2214) and AUS (n  =  2305). Respondents were asked to state whether they believed smoking caused heart disease, stroke, impotence, lung cancer in smokers, and lung cancer in non‐smokers. Respondents were also asked whether the following chemicals are found in cigarette smoke: cyanide, arsenic and carbon monoxide.
Smokers in the four countries exhibited significant gaps in their knowledge of the risks of smoking. Smokers who noticed the warnings were significantly more likely to endorse health risks, including lung cancer and heart disease. In each instance where labelling policies differed between countries, smokers living in countries with government mandated warnings reported greater health knowledge. For example, in Canada, where package warnings include information about the risks of impotence, smokers were 2.68 (2.41–2.97) times more likely to agree that smoking causes impotence compared to smokers from the other three countries.
Smokers are not fully informed about the risks of smoking. Warnings that are graphic, larger, and more comprehensive in content are more effective in communicating the health risks of smoking.
PMCID: PMC2593056  PMID: 16754942
warning labels; health knowledge; smoking behaviour; tobacco constituents; tobacco control policy
23.  Adolescent’s Attitudes Towards Health Warning Message on Cigarette Packs 
A total of 190 secondary four male school students from three schools in Kota Bharu were surveyed on their smoking habits and their attitudes towards the health warning messages on cigarette packs. There were 57 (30.0%) students who were current smokers, 45 (23.7%) students who were ex-smokers and 88 (46.3%) students who have never smoked cigarettes. Nearly all current and ex-smokers (95.1%) as well as non-smokers (94.3%) knew the wording of the health warning message currently displayed on cigarette packs. Almost all the students (95.3%) also knew where the warning message was placed. There were more ex-smokers and non-smokers (70.5%) compared to current smokers (50.0%) who felt that there should be different health warning messages and each should be displayed concurrently on different cigarette packs. The students felt that the current health message was not effective to motivate smokers to quit (score=2.25). Alternative messages which the students felt may be more effective were ‘Smoking is dangerous for pregnancy’ (score = 3.3), ‘Cigarette smoke is dangerous for your child’ (score=3.11) and ‘Smoking can kill you’ (score=3.08). The current health message “Smoking is dangerous for your health’ is eighth with a score of only 2.64. The students felt that the least effective message was ‘Cigarettes are drugs’ (score=2.22). Most of the students (80.0%) felt that the health warning message should be placed at the front instead of on the side of the cigarette pack to be more effective.
PMCID: PMC3433959  PMID: 22973151
smoking; health messages; adolescents; Kota Bharu
24.  Level of colorectal cancer awareness: a cross sectional exploratory study among multi-ethnic rural population in Malaysia 
BMC Cancer  2013;13:376.
This paper presents the level of colorectal cancer awareness among multi-ethnic rural population in Malaysia.
A rural-based cross sectional survey was carried out in Perak state in Peninsular Malaysia in March 2011. The survey recruited a population-representative sample using multistage sampling. Altogether 2379 participants were included in this study. Validated bowel/colorectal cancer awareness measure questionnaire was used to assess the level of colorectal cancer awareness among study population. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) was done to identify socio-demographic variance of knowledge score on warning signs and risk factors of colorectal cancer.
Among respondents, 38% and 32% had zero knowledge score for warning signs and risk factors respectively. Mean knowledge score for warning signs and risk factors were 2.89 (SD 2.96) and 3.49 (SD 3.17) respectively. There was a significant positive correlation between the knowledge score of warning signs and level of confidence in detecting a warning sign. Socio-demographic characteristics and having cancer in family and friends play important role in level of awareness.
Level of awareness on colorectal cancer warning signs and risk factors in the rural population of Malaysia is very low. Therefore, it warrants an extensive health education campaign on colorectal cancer awareness as it is one of the commonest cancer in Malaysia. Health education campaign is urgently needed because respondents would seek medical attention sooner if they are aware of this problem.
PMCID: PMC3750380  PMID: 23924238
Colorectal cancer; Rural population; Cancer awareness; Bowel/colorectal CAM
25.  Awareness of heart attack symptoms and lifesaving actions among New York city area residents 
The American Heart Association has a national network of community-based programs designed to reduce response times to cardiac emergencies by improving access to automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) among laypersons. Success of these Operation Heartbeat programs depends in part on the public’s knowledge of the warning signs of a myocardial infarction (MI) and appropriate response to cardiac arrest victims. In May 2000, a 7-minute telephone survey was administered to a random sample of adults residing within the American Heart Association affiliate territories of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut to determine the knowledge of MI symptoms, confidence in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) use, and the awareness of AEDs. Of the respondents, 60% were women (n=1,128), 83% were Caucasians (n=1,558), 15.2% were non-whites (African American, Asian, or Hispanic), and 38.5% had at least a college degree (n=724). Women were significantly more likely than men to know that sex differences exist in the warning signs for an MI (63% vs. 30.7%, respectively; P<.001). Whites had above-average confidence in MI recognition compared with non-whites (39.2% vs. 27.4%, respectively; P<.001) and were more cognizant of the public availability of AEDs (54.5% vs. 33.2%, respectively; P<.001). Our findings suggest that racial/ethnic and sex disparities exist in the awareness of AEDs and in the knowledge of atypical MI symptoms in women, respectively. Innovative CPR outreach programs might be needed in New York area communities to increase CPR training among all adults, to increase AED awareness in vulnerable populations, and to improve knowledge and confidence in the recognition of acute MI symptoms.
PMCID: PMC3456569  PMID: 15888639
Cardiac arrest; CPR; Defibrillators; Disparities; Race

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