Educating young adults about opioid misuse: Evidence from a mass media intervention

Jessica M. Rath, Siobhan N. Perks, Donna M. Vallone, Alexis A. Barton, Daniel K. Stephens, Bethany Simard, Elizabeth C. Hair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The US opioid epidemic is a serious public health problem. Rates of opioid misuse and dependence are highest for young adults ages 18–25. Prevention strategies that reduce prescription opioid misuse while decreasing stigma around dependence and treatment are critical components of addressing the epidemic. The Truth About Opioids, a mass media public education campaign, was designed to prevent opioid misuse and dependence among young adults. This study examined the intervention’s effectiveness to shift opioid-related knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs within targeted designated market areas (DMAs) over time. A sample of young adults (N = 1434) in DMAs with varying levels of media exposure was surveyed at baseline (June–September 2019) and post-intervention (July–August 2020). Logistic regression assessed associations between campaign awareness and campaign-targeted knowledge and attitudes, controlling for baseline variables. Those with any awareness had significantly higher odds of campaign-targeted opioid-related knowledge (versus no awareness) (low awareness OR = 1.52 (95% CI: 1.04, 2.24); high awareness OR = 2.47 (95% CI: 1.58, 3.87)). Those with campaign awareness were also more likely to report lower levels of opioid-related stigma and higher intentions to share information and talk to a friend about the epidemic. Mass media public education campaigns can help influence young adults’ opioid-related knowledge and attitudes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number22
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022


  • Prescription opioid misuse
  • Public health media campaigns
  • Young adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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