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


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.