Cancer is a primary societal challenge worldwide, with over 23 million new cases/year, and 10 million deaths/year. Estimates of preventable cancer deaths rise as high as 70%, but such estimates rely heavily on individual behaviors, which in turn are correlated with knowledge and attitudes towards health and cancer. This paper describes the iterative evidence-based development of the first entertainment-education series on cancer prevention to be televised, and reports its effectiveness evaluation. A nominal group defined the guiding principles that were translated into key characteristics for a series named ‘2’ Life-changing minutes’. Pilot episodes were produced and evaluated in two complementary studies—a focus group study with medical doctors and a survey study with prospective viewers. Results from these studies guided the optimization and production of the full series, which was broadcast on national public TV, in prime time. An evaluation study was performed afterwards with naturally-occurring viewers and results show audience reach on par with purely entertainment series, that health messages can be clearly conveyed through fictional narratives, and that the series has high levels of appreciation and health promotion potential. ‘2’ Life-changing minutes’ constitutes a novel and effective proposal for health promotion, that challenges the primacy of information and statistics still common in health communication, with a new format based on stories, characters and social contexts to successfully promote health.

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