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The Department of Health funded the Northern Regional Health Authority and Durham University to carry out a one year research project. Discussion groups were held in four contrasting areas in the North of England. The research explored young people's motives and meanings, the reasons they give for taking or refusing drugs, the switches in their patterns of use, their perceptions of the health risks involved, and differences and similarities between the three age groups, the four types of user, the four areas and the two sexes. In essence, the research found that drug misuse is linked with the wider culture of young people, especially pop music. Communication was an important issue, closely allied to the need for information. Based on the research, the following elements on the advertising campaign emerged: as pop music is closely associated with drug misuse, commercial radio was to be the media of choice; the cultural issues determined the format for the campaign, using playlets; to explore communication, responses to the campaign were to be measured; and information was to be given in leaflets. The advertising campaign was in two complementary parts: on radio for young people, and for adults concerned for the welfare of young people on radio, in newspapers and by direct mail. As far as the young people’s campaign was concerned, over six hundred telephone calls were provoked. The campaign reached an important proportion of the target population (over three quarters of the target audience had unprompted recall of the campaign); it was judged an acceptable approach to the subject (seventy to eighty percent of the target audience thought it had got the message across well); and the information leaflet was well received (sixty to seventy percent of the target audience approved of the style and content of the leaflet). Likewise, the adult campaign was successful. Those who sent for the leaflet were pleased with what they received ( over sixty percent of a sample of the target audience who received a leaflet were fairly or very impressed with the leaflet); there was general agreement that including the young person’s leaflet met with enthusiasm; and that direct mail was by far the best medium to propagate requests for information ( over eighty percent of all requests for information were generated by direct mail).

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