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Research Questions

  1. What are the strengths of the design, content, and dissemination strategies used by the Real Warrior Campaign (RWC)?
  2. Which aspects of the RWC adhere to best practices for health communication campaigns?
  3. Is the RWC content relevant to its audiences?
  4. Where should the Department of Defense target future investments or quality improvement efforts related to the RWC?

The Real Warriors Campaign (RWC), launched in 2009, is a multimedia program designed to promote resilience, facilitate recovery, and support the reintegration of returning servicemembers, veterans, and their families. This report presents findings based upon an independent assessment of the campaign. It identifies which aspects of the campaign adhere to best practices for health communication campaigns and how the campaign could improve both its content and its dissemination activities. The assessment included an expert panel which identified best practices for health communication campaigns and rated the RWC according to those practices, telephone discussions with organizations that partnered with the campaign, a content analysis of the campaign's website, an analysis of communication measures collected by the campaign, and a review of relevant documents describing campaign design and development. Findings suggested that the RWC shows promise in its ability to reach its intended target audiences and achieve its goals, but needs to invest in mechanisms that allow it to be nimble, monitoring the needs of the target populations and adjusting the campaign activities to meet those needs.

Key Findings

The Design and Dissemination Strategies of the Real Warrior Campaign (RWC) Suggest That the RWC Shows Promise in Its Ability to Reach Its Intended Target Audiences and Achieve Its Goals

  • The core messages of the RWC are relevant and constitute the right messages for the campaign, but they are not stated clearly anywhere on the website.
  • The video profiles containing personal stories of servicemembers struggling with mental health problems were considered the most compelling part of the campaign.
  • Expert ratings indicated that the RWC is generally adhering to best practices for health communication campaigns.
  • However, campaign messages are not tailored as effectively as they could be to reach target populations.

The Breadth of the Content on the RWC Website Dilutes the Campaign's Key Messages, and Its Depth Is Uneven Across Goals and Target Populations

  • The website content was described as "overly dense" and causing "information overload."
  • Navigation of the website was reported as difficult by some partner organizations.
  • The website and materials focus much more on the active duty population than on the Guard or Reserve.
  • Not all partner organizations were actively engaged, and many reported wanting more interaction with the RWC and other partners.


  • Invest in mechanisms that allow the Real Warrior Campaigns (RWC) to monitor the needs of its target populations and adjust to meet those needs.
  • Clearly state the goals and core messages of the RWC on the website.
  • Streamline existing content to ensure that it aligns with goals and key messages.
  • Base the development of new goals and messages on findings from objective data sources, such as the Mental Health Advisory Team survey.
  • Improve the tailoring of website content to specific target populations.
  • Enhance and grow the social media channels that are the most effective.
  • Convene an ongoing expert or advisory panel to help the campaign stay current and highlight key issues.
  • Use improved communication metrics to conduct ongoing monitoring.
  • Conduct ongoing evaluation to assess whether the campaign is meeting its short- and long-term goals.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two

    Rationale, Content, Design, and Dissemination of the Real Warriors Campaign

  • Chapter Three

    Results of RAND's Assessment of the Real Warriors Campaign

  • Chapter Four

    Recommendations to Improve Future Design and Dissemination of the Real Warriors Campaign

  • Appendix A

    Summary Description of Appendixes B through F

  • Appendix B

    Literature Review Methods and Findings

  • Appendix C

    Expert Panel Methods and Findings

  • Appendix D

    Discussions with Real Warriors Campaign Partner Organizations

  • Appendix E

    Content Analysis Methods and Findings

  • Appendix F

    Methods and Findings from RAND Analysis of Real Warriors Campaign Communication Metrics

The research described in this report was prepared for the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). The research was conducted jointly by the Center for Military Health Policy Research, a RAND Health program, and the Forces and Resources Policy Center, a RAND National Defense Research Institute (NDRI) program. NDRI is a federally funded research and development center sponsored by OSD, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Technical report series. RAND technical reports may include research findings on a specific topic that is limited in scope or intended for a narrow audience; present discussions of the methodology employed in research; provide literature reviews, survey instruments, modeling exercises, guidelines for practitioners and research professionals, and supporting documentation; or deliver preliminary findings. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure that they meet high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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