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20/68 Targeted Mass Media Interventions for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Populations



Deadline for submission: 17 November 2020, 1pm

This research brief was prepared before the advent of the Covid-19 viral pandemic. It addresses an issue that is arguably now even more pertinent as a result of recent statistics highlighting the disproportionate effects of Covid-19 risk of infection and death in people from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities. The PHE report ‘Beyond the data: Understanding the impact of CoVID-19 on BAME groups’, published in June 2020, highlights two recommendations that are relevant to this brief, recommendations that could both be informed by further NIHR research in this area.

  1. Fund, develop and implement culturally competent COVID-19 education and prevention campaigns.
  2. Accelerate efforts to target culturally competent health promotion and disease prevention programmes for non-communicable diseases.

Whist we encourage applications to address the Covid-19 specific research recommendations in the PHE report, we also welcome applications for research addressing the broader issue of evaluating targeted mass media interventions in BAME populations, in the longer term.

Research question(s)

  • Are culturally competent, targeted mass media [1] interventions effective* and cost-effective in promoting healthy behaviours to reduce the risk of disease in black, Asian and minority ethnic populations [2]?

[1] Mass media is any channel of communication that intends to reach a large number of people without direct person-to-person contact (i.e. television, radio, pamphlets, digital media). Targeted mass media campaigns are directed towards a particular population subgroup.
[2] Ethnicity can be defined as shared culture and traditions which are distinctive, maintained between generations, and lead to a sense of identity and groupness. Minority ethnic groups are populations that differ in ethnicity from the dominant or majority ethnicity in a country.

Approximately 14 percent of the UK population identify as being in a Black, Asian, or minority ethnic (BAME) group. Evidence shows that, overall, individuals in BAME groups in the UK are at a higher risk of morbidity and mortality from the leading preventable diseases. Death rates from cardiovascular disease are 50% higher than average among people of South Asian descent. Individuals identifying as Black-African, Black-Caribbean, or South Asian are two to four times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those identifying as white British.

Mass media interventions can reach a large audience, especially using digital, social and broadcast media, and they may have a role to play in promoting behaviour change among key groups. There is a lack of evidence, however, on the effectiveness, and particularly the cost-effectiveness, of mass media interventions targeted at BAME groups.

The PHR Programme is interested in the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of targeted mass media interventions to promote health behaviours and reduce the risk of disease in BAME populations.

Types of studies could include (but are not limited to):

  • Studies that explore how the different components of specific interventions impact effectiveness and compare the effects of BAME-targeted versus general mass media interventions
  • Studies considering the moderating impacts of socioeconomic factors, health literacy, and other contextual factors that may affect intervention reach and appropriateness
  • Studies covering a specific population, including inter-generational differences or intra-group differences
  • Evaluation of campaigns previously run, or already running, where robust data is available

Researchers are encouraged to seek appropriate stakeholder engagement in studies. The programme encourages BAME stakeholders (i.e. target population) involvement in the development of the media campaign and research design where possible. Researchers are also encouraged to work with national stakeholders, such as Public Health England, that may already be planning media campaigns.

Researchers will need to identify and justify the population or sub-group studied and the outcomes to be measured. The primary outcomes must be health related; secondary outcome measures can include process outcomes. Researchers should demonstrate the relevance of their proposed research to policy makers and other evidence-users. Researchers are encouraged to involve relevant subject-matter experts, particularly marketing/social-marketing experts, in the development and undertaking of the research, including as fully funded members of the research team.

Studies should generate evidence to inform the implementation of single or multi-component interventions. Studies may include evidence syntheses, studies evaluating interventions, including trials, quasi- and natural experimental evaluations, and feasibility and pilot studies for these. We welcome applications for linked studies (e.g. pilot + main evaluation, evidence syntheses + modelling). Secondary analyses of existing epidemiological data and/or impact modelling studies may also be funded. We encourage the adoption of a systems perspective where appropriate to the study context. In all cases a strong justification for the chosen design and methods must be made.

The primary outcome measure of the research, if not necessarily the intervention itself, must be health-related. The positive or negative impacts of the intervention, including inequitable outcomes should be considered. Researchers are asked to indicate how long-term impacts will be assessed. All applications should identify underlying theory and include a logic model (or equivalent) to help explain underlying context, theory and mechanisms. Proposals should ensure adequate public involvement in the research.

The impacts of public health interventions are often complex and wide-reaching. Studies should acknowledge this by adopting a broad perspective, taking account of costs and benefits to all relevant sectors of society. An appropriate health economic analysis to inform cost effectiveness, affordability or return on investment should be included where appropriate. Sustainability - health, economic and environmental - is also of interest.

For all proposals, applicants should clearly state the public health utility of the outcomes and the mechanisms by which they will inform future public health policy and practice. Details about the potential pathway to impact and scalability of interventions, if shown to have an effect, should be provided, including an indication of which organisation(s) might fund the relevant intervention(s) if widely implemented.

Remit of call

All proposals submitted under this call must fall within the remit of the NIHR Public Health Research (PHR) programme. Please go to the Public Health Research Programme webpage for details. For the evaluation of time sensitive, policy driven, interventions applicants may wish to consider the fast-track work stream - further details on the PHR webpage.

General notes

The PHR Programme funds research to generate evidence to inform the delivery of non-NHS interventions intended to improve the health of the public and reduce inequalities in health. Our scope is multi-disciplinary and broad, covering a wide range of interventions that improve public health.

The primary aim of the programme is the evaluation of practical interventions. We will fund both primary research (mainly evaluative, but also some preparatory research) and secondary research (evidence synthesis); precise methods will need to be appropriate to the question being asked and the feasibility of the research.

Our research serves a variety of key stakeholders including: decision-makers in local government; primary care organisations and other local public services; third sector organisations; relevant national agencies (e.g. NICE) concerned with improving public health and reducing health inequalities; researchers; public health practitioners and the public.

Applicants should consider how their findings will impact upon decision making in public health practice, whether results are generalisable to other populations and affordable, setting out a clear pathway to impact. The NIHR PHR programme recognises that there is a need for an evidence base for disinvestment and that the removal of an intervention from a population can be worthy of evaluation.

The affordability of the intervention, and at least an indication of the stakeholder(s) willing to fund the intervention, should be referenced within the stage 1 application. At the stage 2 application point, statements of support confirming stakeholder commitments to funding will be required. Applicants should be aware that the NIHR PHR programme is unable to fund intervention costs.

The NIHR PHR programme is open to the joint funding of research projects with other organisations such as those in the third sector. If you would like to explore the potential for joint funding, please contact us at with details of your proposal and the other funder prior to submission.

All of our funded projects are eligible for publication in the NIHR Journals Library. This open access resource is freely available online, and provides a full and permanent record of NIHR-funded research.

Notes to applicants 

The NIHR PHR programme is funded by the NIHR, with contributions from the CSO in Scotland, Health and Care Research Wales, and HSC R&D, Public Health Agency, Northern Ireland. Researchers in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are eligible to apply for funding under this programme.

Applicants are recommended to seek advice from suitable methodological support services, at an early stage in the development of their research idea and application. The NIHR Research Design Service can advise on appropriate NIHR programme choice, and developing and designing high quality research grant applications.

The NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) supports health and social care research taking place in NHS and non-NHS settings. The CRN provides expert advice and support to plan, set up and deliver research efficiently.

Clinical Trials Units are regarded as an important component of many trial applications however, they are not essential for all types of studies to the PHR programme. The CTUs can advise and participate throughout the process from initial idea development through to project delivery and reporting. NIHR CTU Support Funding provides information on units receiving funding from the NIHR to collaborate on research applications to NIHR programmes and funded projects. In addition, the UKCRC CTU Network provides a searchable information resource on all registered units in the UK, and lists key interest areas and contact information.

Transparency agenda 

In line with the government’s transparency agenda, any contract resulting from this tender may be published in its entirety to the general public.
For information about contracts worth over £10,000 with the government and its agencies use: Contracts Finder.