Process Evaluation in Health Communication Media Campaigns: A Systematic Review

Hannah Getachew-Smith*, Andy J. King, Charlotte Marshall, Courtney L. Scherr

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Objective. The objective is to examine the scope of health communication media campaign process evaluation methods, findings, and dissemination practices. Data Source. A systematic review of peer-reviewed literature was conducted using database searches. Study Inclusion and Exclusion Criteria. Published studies on process and implementation evaluation of health campaigns with a media component were included. Exclusion criteria included not health, non-empirical, no media campaign, or a focus on other evaluation types. Data Extraction. Articles were assessed for general campaign information, theory use, and details about process evaluation plan and procedures. Data Synthesis. A coding scheme based on 9 process evaluation best practice elements (e.g., fidelity and context) was applied. Process evaluation methods, measures, and reporting themes were synthesized. Results. Among 691 unique records, 46 articles were included. Process evaluation was the main focus for 71.7% of articles, yet only 39.1% reported how process evaluation informed campaign implementation strategy. Articles reported 4.39 elements on average (SD = 1.99; range 1–9), with reach (87.0%) and recruitment (73.9%) described most frequently, yet reporting was inconsistent. Further, the level of detail in reporting methods, theory, and analysis varied. Conclusions. Process evaluation provides insight about mechanisms and intervening variables that could meaningfully impact interpretations of outcome evaluations; however, process evaluations are less often included in literature. Recommendations for evidence-based process evaluation components to guide evaluation are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)367-378
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Health Promotion
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2022


  • health communication campaigns
  • process evaluation
  • research on evaluation
  • social marketing
  • systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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