Newspaper Articles as a Tool for Cardiovascular Prevention Programs in a Developing Country
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The purpose of this study was to evaluate changes in knowledge and attitudes as intermediate measures of community impact of a health education campaign using newspaper articles. The intervention involved prominently placed, illustrated newspaper articles by Heartfile (heartfile.org) with nationwide urban outreach, posted regularly in the largest English newspaper in Pakistan using newspaper donated space for a period of 130 consecutive weeks. The post intervention evaluation involved a cross sectional telephone survey in a major city. In the total sample, 26.5% were readers of the newspaper and majority of them (72%) stated that they were regular readers. These 500 persons were eligible for the interview; of these, 93% remembered having seen the Heartfile articles. In this group, 87% of the respondents stated that the articles significantly supplemented their knowledge about diet, and in 5% they were the sole source of information. With respect to exercise, these articles supplemented the knowledge of 77% of the respondents and were the sole source of information for 9% whereas in the case of smoking, knowledge was supplemented in 85% and the articles were the sole source of information in 4% of the cases. Of those interviewed, 40% reported that they had made some dietary changes, 39% made some changes in their exercise habits and 8% reduced the amount of tobacco consumption as a result of reading these articles. In relation to newspaper articles, the per article production cost was US$ 169 and the articles were read regularly by an estimated 0.66 million and occasionally by 0.79 million individuals all over the country. Newspaper articles are a useful supplement to other health education activities as part of cardiovascular disease prevention programs. Lessons from the Heartfile experience in Pakistan could be useful for other similar initiatives in low resource settings.
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