How we calculate impact

The impact of well-designed media campaigns on attitudes and behaviour has been conclusively demonstrated. But there has never been any attempt to measure or even to model the impact of campaigns on mortality. Historically this has been because the impact on all-cause mortality would be very hard to identify statistically due to the many possible causes of deaths and the limited impact of any single campaign.

We have conducted ground-breaking research, in partnership with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. This research calculates how many children's lives could be saved if campaigns were conducted in a new, far more cost-effective manner.

To estimate the potential impact of comprehensive campaigns, we have adapted and extensively updated the models used for the Lancet Child Survival Series in 2003 and 2005. These models predict how many lives could be saved if coverage of key interventions (such as breastfeeding and bed nets) was increased from current levels. Our own model uses evidence from previous behaviour change campaigns to predict the increase in coverage of these interventions that could be achieved by campaigning on all causes of death using mass media alone.

The predictions of the DMI-LSHTM mathematical model are very promising. They indicate that child mortality in most low-income countries could be reduced by 16% to 23%, depending on the profile of the country (see predictions by country). The cost per life-year saved is also lower than any currently available intervention. The research will be published in The Lancet in late 2014.

The majority of our impact on child mortality is focused on the big three killers of children under five: malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea (with malnutrition as an important secondary cause). This pie chart gives an estimated breakdown of our impact by cause of death (mouse over the segments to find out more).

We are currently running a randomised controlled trial in Burkina Faso to test these predictions on the ground.


We are currently designing health behaviour change campaigns in 10 African countries and are looking for partners and funders for many of these projects through our Media Million Lives initiative.