Elixir of Life Gets High Marks

Ten-Part Series Is "Educational," "Ingenious"

Two hundred and thirty television viewers in the Czech Republic recently turned in glowing reviews of CECHE's Elixir of Life TV series. Funded by USAID and other sources, the ten-part series on health issues completed production in 1998. Veteran CECHE media trainee Martin Slunecko of NIKE TV produced the program with guidance from Greg Palkot of Deutsche Welle and formerly of ABC Television. The ten-part series aired on Czech TV's Channel 1 from November 11, 1998 through January 18, 1999, and repeat broadcasts are scheduled over the next two years.

Program Description

On each 28-minute program, host and Czech TV personality Marcela Hoffmanova presents quiz segments, interviews, field reports, and cooking and exercise demonstrations before an enthusiastic studio audience. These fast-paced, engaging segments educate and entertain. The program encourages viewers to change their lifestyles to reduce the risk of cerebrovascular and cardiovascular disease (CVD) - both leading killers in the Czech Republic. In addition, the consortium behind Elixir of Life undertook high-risk and community intervention efforts in two Czech communities to promote public education, institutional development, program and policy reform, and intensive professional training.

The Evaluation

To assess the program's effectiveness, two hundred and thirty people from the Czech Republic were invited to view the entire series. Following the viewing, Dr. Lumir Komarek of the National Institute of Public Health in Prague and Dr. Fiona Chew of Syracuse University's Newhouse School of Public Communications asked them 11 questions. Viewers were asked to evaluate certain aspects of the program on a scale of 1 to 5. In two open-ended questions, researchers also asked viewers what they liked and disliked about the show. Participants were classified by sex, occupation, and educational background. Women comprised 84.8 percent of the audience. Health professionals made up 55.2 percent of the group, implying that the group as a whole was more knowledgeable about health issues than most Czechs. Sixty percent of the viewers had completed secondary school.

Those surveyed consistently gave Elixir of Life high marks. They gave the program's editing and artistic value a 4.26, the highest score of all categories. General series impression and clear illustration of subjects followed that with a 4.13. The audience gave the professional standard a 3.83, a "good" rating. No one ranked any aspect of the program below a 3 (average).

An overwhelming majority of the audience (95.6 percent) said the series was stimulating or very stimulating educationally. About 30 percent of the audience reported the series featured new and practical information -- an encouraging finding, considering that over half the audience worked in health professions and that the Czech Republic has had many health campaigns!

Audiences particularly liked getting practical advice about things they could do, such as in-studio cooking, "practical examples and models," and "model situations and demonstrations, e.g., replacing high-energy foods with low-energy ones, improving dietary habits, choosing fats, and exercising." They said the series was ingeniously, comprehensively designed and packaged and approached topics "from different aspects." In addition, they valued the expert advice, liked the studio involvement and participatory environment, and found the selected topics to be instructive and interesting.

Finally, when viewers were asked about ways the series could be improved, they had few comments, apart from recommending briefer programs.

To purchase the Elixir of Life 10-part series: send $25 (includes postage for US or Canada) or $40 (includes postage for overseas mail) to CECHE at 4437 Reservoir Road NW; Washington, DC 20007; USA.

Questions?  Comments?  Concerns? E-mail CECHE at CECHE@comcast.net
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