Health Policy

Using Evidence-Based Research to Redirect a Conversation: Newspapers’ Coverage of Strategies to Address College Binge Drinking

Campo, S.; Askelson, N.M.; Mastin, T.; Slonske, M.


This study examines selected newspapers’ coverage of college binge drinking while also serving as an example of evidence-based practices that can be of use to public relations practitioners and health care professionals working to draw attention to important factors that are not being addressed in either public or policy conversations related to this issue. We examine newspaper coverage in 32 newspapers from 1997 to 2006 to determine which strategies to address college binge drinking are being covered and which of those are evidence-based and implemented by colleges. The mix of individual versus environmental strategies was examined based on Social Cognitive Theory. In the 255 articles analyzed, the majority of strategies covered were environmental. The most frequently covered strategy, increasing student knowledge, is individual and not evidence-based. Strategies classified as effective were not frequently covered. Media advocacy is offered as an evidence-based practice that public relations and health care professionals can use to affect change.