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Media Flight Schedules and Seasonality in Relation to Quitline Call Volume

Murphy-Hoefer, Rebecca PhD, MPH; Madden, Patrick A. MBA; Dufresne, Ruth M. SM

Journal of Public Health Management and Practice: February 23, 2018 - Volume Publish Ahead of Print - Issue - p
doi: 10.1097/PHH.0000000000000770
Research Full Report: PDF Only

Context: Given the high profile, cost, and vulnerability to budget cuts of mass-reach health education campaigns, researchers have cited the need for media buying strategies.

Objective: The objective of the current study is to fill a gap in the literature by comparing the impact of media flight schedule types in relation to tobacco quitline call volume.

Design: The retrospective study was designed to determine whether type of media flight schedule (eg, flighting, continuous, pulsing) impacted number of calls to the Maine Tobacco Helpline, while accounting for number of gross rating points (GRPs), seasonality, holidays, and other factors.

Setting: Maine has 3 designated market areas (DMAs): Portland/Auburn, Bangor, and Presque Isle.

Main Outcome Measures: Daily call volume was matched with weekly GRPs.

Methods: A negative binomial regression model was created to examine the relationship among media flight schedules, number of GRPs, and call volume. Gross rating points reflect national networks and local cable TV media buys. A second model examined the association between GRP dose levels and call volume.

Results: The number of GRPs was a significant predictor of call volume (P < .001). Weekly number of GRPs within a media flight schedule was the most important indicator for potential effectiveness. Weekly low-dose GRPs were not effective in increasing calls, indicating a minimum threshold. For every 250 GRPs, 29% (or 73) more calls per week were attributed to the media campaigns (P < .001). Weekly quitline call volume was 21% (or 53 calls) lower during the weeks of Christmas, US Thanksgiving, and US Independence Day.

Conclusion: Type of media flight schedule should be considered in the context of purchasing sufficient weekly, as well as quarterly, rating points to increase tobacco quitline call volume. In addition, our study is the first to quantify and report on lower tobacco quitline call volume during several US holidays.

Center for Excellence in Health Innovation, University of New England, Portland, Maine (Dr Murphy-Hoefer and Ms Dufresne); and Market Decisions Research, Portland, Maine (Mr Madden).

Correspondence: Rebecca Murphy-Hoefer, PhD, MPH, Center for Excellence in Health Innovation, University of New England, 716 Stevens Ave, Portland, ME 04103 (

The authors thank John Ware and Michael Sears, PhD. This study was supported by the Partnership for a Tobacco-Free Maine, contracted by the Center for Excellence in Health Innovation (formerly called the School of Community and Population Health), University of New England, Portland, Maine.

Rebecca Murphy-Hoefer and Patrick Madden served as subcontractors through the Center for Excellence in Health Innovation at the University of New England. Ruth Dufresne served as the project manager for the independent evaluation of the Partnership for Tobacco-Free Maine, Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

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