Health communication literature on mass media evaluates that public health messages basing on unfavorable health consequences, hold only a limited effect when used to change individual behavior of adolescents. Donovan (1993) argued that there is a common mistake in media campaign designs. He added that adverts and promotions are set with an assumption that, portraying individual behavior as unhealthy, will change people attitudes and help minimize the practice. This is a wrong approach because most of these message designs do not have an effect in the behavior of targeted people. Mostly, the promotions run along but with less concern on individual targets. In fact, with the media prohibiting certain behaviors in health promotion, most curious adolescents develop the curiosity to try it out. It means that a better approach of the media in health promotion is of the essence to help handle health issues and instill some sense in the public (French, 2004).
To be more effective, mass media in health promotion should provide consistent messages using from many sources. The health promotional messages need to be repeatedly and run over a long period (Donovan, 1993). This is because the public have a tendency of ignorance and care less about some basic issues. A good example of success using this approach is the washing of hands advert aired in the United States for over two years. The commonness of that message has had an impact because of the prolonged period (Hastings, 1994). With the media, this approach in health promotion is ideal and enhances success in the event of health promotion. The media should also work in promoting social policies aiming to change societal norms regarding healthy issues (McClelland, 1997). So many issues in health relate to societal norms yet the media assumes the role of the society. This in turn, minimizes the effect of the media in produces successful health promotion campaigns. Incorporating these societal norms is of value and enhances successful health promotion campaigns (Donovan, 1993).
There is also need in the future practice to budget wholesomely in mass media for a complete practice in health promotion (Tilford, 1994). It is apparent that mass media has received less support in many governments in its promotion of health campaigns. The even has rendered it of less value in handling health promotion with the society (Health Development Agency, 2004). To help facilitate explosive and effective campaigns through mass media, gargantuan budgets and full support would be of necessity for success (McClelland, 1997). A good example to learn from is America, which has had a positive history in health campaigns by setting gargantuan budgets in health promotions. In America, several states earmark a portion of tax revenues in every budget to fund mass media health campaigns to curb the prevalent cigarette smoking among the youth and this has shown an effect with the reduction of cigarette consumption. It also has effect in the reduction of health issues related to cigarette smoking with the reduction of cancer cases in the recent years (Donovan, 1993).
The media take prominence in health promotion through several approaches including audience segmentation. It is appropriate for the media to deal with health issues selectively including demarcations in terms of the target group. Age, sex and other disparities are of relevance in media attempt to promote health (Hastings, 1994). Most of the human health issues affect specific groups, rarely are health issues generalized to the public, but there are still some that do. Using audience segmentation is ideal for the media to help handle specific health issues per a group and deliver the information required specifically for a particular group (French, 2004).