Methamphetamine Prevention Social Marketing Campaign
We conducted formative research and a large-scale evaluation for a social marketing campaign to promote methamphetamine prevention and treatment
Client: Fraser Communications
In Los Angeles County, methamphetamine use is associated with more deaths than any other drug.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LADPH) hired Fraser Communications to create a county-wide campaign to prevent methamphetamine use and to encourage people who use meth to reduce their use and seek treatment.
We conducted two rounds of focus groups with residents at risk of meth use, and 14 interviews with people who use meth to inform the campaign.
Our pre and post evaluation with over 3,700 residents found strong, significant outcomes regarding methamphetamine awareness, attitudes, and behaviors.
Development and evaluation of a social marketing campaign to address methamphetamine use in Los Angeles County.
Neffa-Creech D, Plant A, Montoya JA, Oruga R, Kilgore EA, Fraser R, Tesema L. BMC Public Health. 2022;22(1):1796.
Meth-Free L.A. County: Perceived impact of a methamphetamine prevention and harm reduction social marketing campaign.
Neffa-Creech D, Plant A, Montoya JA, Brackett B, Kilgore B, Tesema L, Rangell O, Fraser R. Oral presentation at: American Public Health Association Annual Meeting; October 23-27, 2021; Virtual and Denver, Colorado.
As in many areas of the country, methamphetamine has a major negative impact on Los Angeles County communities. Methamphetamine use is associated with more deaths in the county than any other drug – even greater than opioids. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health retained the services of Fraser Communications to design and implement a social marketing campaign to help address this issue.
Sentient Research carried out all formative research activities to develop the campaign, as well as a rigorous campaign evaluation. We began by conducting three focus groups with residents at risk for meth use, and wrote a detailed report with recommendations for the campaign. Fraser Communications used these results to create seven different campaign concepts, which we tested in a subsequent round of two focus groups.
This formative research was used to create the Meth Free L.A. County campaign. The goals of the campaign were to prevent meth use among those who have never tried it and to motivate people who use meth to reduce their use and seek treatment. The tone of the campaign was intentionally uplifting and non-stigmatizing to people who use meth. As drug use behaviors are difficult to change, the campaign was designed to impact precursors to behaviors (e.g., attitudes and intentions), as well as behaviors, to move people along the stages of change. The campaign channels included radio, online videos, streaming television, website ads, and outdoor ads.
The Meth Free L.A. County campaign launched at the onset of the COVID-19 epidemic – our evaluation included the effect of the epidemic on campaign outcomes.
To evaluate the effects of Meth Free L.A. County, we conducted an pre and post survey of over 3,700 Los Angeles County residents. We intentionally recruited residents based on research to be at higher risk for using meth, as this was the intended target audience of the campaign. This included: people living in zip codes with meth overdose disparities; people in certain job categories; those experiencing long-term unemployment or homelessness; and men who have sex with men (MSM).
We conducted an online pre survey before the campaign began, and a post survey 10 weeks later. Participants were recruited using ads on social media and dating apps, as well as from an online panel company. The survey assessed methamphetamine knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors, as well as campaign exposure in the endline. We conducted logistic regression analysis to assess campaign outcomes while controlling for multiple covariates such as campaign awareness, access to meth, knowing others who use meth, living in a high risk zip code, homelessness, unemployment, and demographics.
This study was among of the first to rigorously evaluate a social marketing campaign to address methamphetamine use.
Our evaluation of the Meth Free L.A. County campaign found strong outcomes. Awareness of the campaign was 25%, and all population segments responded positively to the campaign ads. The analyses revealed that campaign exposure was associated with having more negative attitudes toward methamphetamine, calling LAC’s substance abuse service helpline, using methamphetamine fewer days, and considering abstaining. Frequency of exposure to campaign advertisements was positively associated with calling the helpline, suggesting a campaign dose effect. COVID-19-related factors were associated with using methamphetamine in the past 30 days.