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BMC Research Notes

, 6:117

First Online: 26 March 2013Received: 26 September 2012Accepted: 18 March 2013DOI: 10.1186-1756-0500-6-117

Cite this article as: Jones, R.B., Soler-Lopez, M., Zahra, D. et al. BMC Res Notes 2013 6: 117. doi:10.1186-1756-0500-6-117


BackgroundCervical screening uptake has increased as a result of occurrences of cervical cancer in TV ‘soap operas’ and in real life celebrities such as Jade Goody. Media analysis at the time of Jade Goody’s death suggested the NHS did not take sufficient advantage of this opportunity to improve cervical screening rates. Google AdWords has been used to recruit and raise awareness of health but we were not aware of its use to supplement media events.

MethodsThis was an opportunistic service evaluation to accompany a cervical cancer storyline in Eastenders a TV ‘soap opera’. We ran an AdWords campaign based on keywords such as ‘Eastenders’, and ‘cervical cancer’ in a one mile radius in East London, linked to one webpage giving details of 10 practices and other links on cervical cancer. We recorded costs of adverts and setting up the webpage. We used routine statistics from Tower Hamlets, City and Hackney, and Newham Primary Care Trusts PCTs of the number of smears, eligible populations, and coverage by practice by month from September 2010 to January 2012 to compare the ten intervention practices with controls.

ResultsEight people per day in the target area viewed the project webpage. The cost of setting up the website and running Google AdWords was £1320 or £1.88 per person viewing the webpage. Unlike Jade Goody’s death, there was no major impact from the Eastenders’ storyline on Google searches for cervical cancer. There was considerable monthly variation in the number of smear tests in the 3 PCTs. The AdWords campaign may have had some effect on smear rates but this showed, at best, a marginal statistical difference. Assuming a ‘real’ effect, the intervention may have resulted in 110 ‘extra’ women being screened but there was no change in coverage.

ConclusionsAlthough the Eastenders storyline seemed to have no effect on interest in cervical cancer or screening, the AdWords campaign may have had some effect. Given the small scale exploratory nature of the study this was not statistically significant but the relatively modest cost of advertising suggests a larger study may be worthwhile. An outline of a possible study is described.

KeywordsCervical screening Online advertising Media Television drama Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article doi:10.1186-1756-0500-6-117 contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Autor: Ray B Jones - Mar Soler-Lopez - Daniel Zahra - Judith Shankleman - Esther Trenchard-Mabere


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