Background:This presentation is intended to outline the process of developing an evidence-based, health communications campaign to decrease the misuse of ‘study drugs’ (i.e., prescription stimulants) at The University of Texas at Austin (UT-Austin). Note: the campaign is currently in process, and results/evaluation will be available for presentation at the August conference.
Program background:Results from the National College Health Assessment (NCHA) conducted at UT-Austin last year indicated that more than 8% of students had used prescription stimulant medications in the last year without a valid prescription. To address this important health issue on our campus, we are in the process of developing a health communication program using the six phases of the CDCynergy Social Marketing planning model. The NCHA survey results informed Phase 1: Problem Description. We confirmed that the non-medical usage of prescription stimulant medications is prevalent on our campus and stimulants are more frequently abuse/misused than any other class of prescription drugs. As part of Phase 2: Market Research, we are currently conducting an in-depth survey with approximately 300 students. In addition to the quantitative survey, we conducted qualitative interviews with campus stakeholders and an environmental scan. In developing our marketing strategy for Phase 3: Market Strategy, we will select our target audience(s), define current & desired behavior for each target, and apply a marketing mix to select the intervention components. In Phase 4: Intervention, we will draft campaign materials (creative execution and messages) and focus group test them with our target audience(s), finalize the distribution plan, and revise the campaign materials based on stakeholder feedback.
Evaluation Methods and Results:Evaluation, implementation, and results from our campaign will be conducted during the final stages of the model. In Phase 5: Evaluation, we will reference CDC’s Framework for Program Evaluation in Public Health to determine which program components should be evaluated and plan a strategy for gathering, analyzing, and reporting the data. Finally, in Phase 6: Implementation, we will launch our intervention to the campus community. The proposed oral presentation will include our draft and final creative campaign concepts to illustrate the iterative process of intervention development.
Conclusions:Validated planning models can be of great use to health communication professionals in a variety of settings and working on a diverse range of topics. In this case, the CDCynergy Social Marketing planning model served as a roadmap for development of an evidence-based, step-wise health communication campaign. This data-driven market strategy ensures the greatest chance to find ‘touch points’ with messages: meeting students with the right message at the right time.
Implications for research and/or practice:There is a growing body of literature about the misuse of prescription stimulants for cognitive enhancement. It is our intention that this research contributes to the literature while also providing more insight into the misuse/abuse of ‘study drugs’ on a large, public university campus. This case study represents a scalable process for health communication campaign development that can be modeled at other universities with unique needs, audiences, and contexts.