University of Vermont

Office of Health Promotion Research

VT Research to Chair $1 Billion Campaign

Vermont Researcher To Chair Panel For $1 Billion Campaign To Keep Kids Off Drugs

Release Date: 02-09-1999
by Rick Blount

A University of Vermont College of Medicine researcher has been selected to head a White House-appointed panel of experts to develop the largest-ever national youth anti-drug media campaign.

John "Kim" Worden, Ph.D -- a former film and video producer -- has gained national recognition for pioneering the use of radio and television advertising to reduce adolescent smoking. In 1996 this research earned Worden and his colleagues at the University of Vermont (UVM) Office of Health Promotion Research the C. Everett Koop Award.

Worden will chair a seven-member panel that will develop strategies and key advertising messages in a five-year, $1 billion media campaign, the largest and most comprehensive ever undertaken by the federal government.

The campaign´s goal will be to educate and empower America´s young people to reject illicit drugs and substance abuse. The primary target audience will be adolescents aged 11-13 -- the group most at risk of starting to use, or being influenced by, drugs. The campaign also targets other children in ages 9-18, as well as parents, grandparents teachers, religious leaders, physicians and other adults who can influence children.

Primary campaign messages will emphasize: that most children don´t use drugs; the negative effects of using specific drugs; the positive benefits of remaining drug-free; skills that motivate and enable children to stay drug-free; positive use of free time after school and on weekends to avoid drug-related activities.

"I´m really pleased to accept the position as chair of this panel because it combines two paths of my career, one as a media producer and the other as a health behavior researcher," said Worden. "It´s really an honor to work closely with some of the top advertising people in the world on creative ideas that reflect what we´ve learned from research."

Worden and his UVM colleagues have already contributed to the campaign through their research. The group´s smoking prevention project in the 1980s showed that a well-designed TV and radio campaign can result in as much as a 30-percent decrease in levels of youth smoking.

"Several features of the new, national anti-drug campaign were designed in a similar way to the UVM campaign, except that it has a one billion dollar budget," he added.

The campaign will be overseen by the Administration´s Office of National Drug Control Policy in association with Porter Novelli, a Washington-based social marketing firm that will coordinate input from the panel with contracted advertising companies.

Other panelists include: Anthony Biglan, Ph.D., a research scientist at the Oregon Research Institute, an independent nonprofit behavioral science research center; June A. Flora, Ph.D., director of the Stanford Center for Research in Disease Prevention; Steven H. Kelder, Ph.D., associate professor of Behavioral Sciences at the University of Texas Center for Health Promotion and Development; Philip C. Palmgreen, Ph.D., professor at the Department of Communication at the University of Kentucky; Cornelius Pechmann, Ph.D., associate professor of Marketing Management at the University of California, Irvine; and Amelia Ramirez, Dr.P.H., associate director of the Center for Cancer Control Research at Baylor College of Medicine.

Last modified September 16 2013 04:11 PM

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