Reviews Marketing

End celebrity endorsement of screening, say researchers

BMJ 2005; 330 doi: (Published 12 May 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;330:1156
  1. Ray Moynihan, visiting editor (,
  2. Liz Jakubowski, freelance writer
  1. BMJ
  2. Australia

    The convict tradition runs deep down under. When a company promoting full body computed tomography was looking for a celebrity to help sell its wares, it turned to the star of that highly successful Aussie soap opera Prisoner, Val Lehman. So on any given Sunday morning this year, many Australians leisurely flicking through the papers have found themselves face to face with the daunting image of prison heavyweight character Bea Smith urging them to go out and get screened for everything. Likewise, former Ashes winning Australian cricket captain Alan Border has been brought in to bat for an advertisement series on body scans.

    Sadly for Val and Alan, the image of full body computed tomography has become a little tarnished in Australia and elsewhere. Indeed, an Australian state health authority was so concerned about the failure to properly communicate risks and benefits in some of the promotion that it issued a public health alert in 2004: “Full body scans… involve doses of radiation that health experts do not consider to be justifiable in terms of a health check.”

    Until now we have had no real idea what sort of impact celebrities like Val Lehman and Alan Border have on those sleepy Sydneysiders reading their Sunday papers. Now a snappy little study just published …

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