Tag Archives: health communication

A Dose of the Prevention Plan

15 Apr

I know, it has been a long time since my last blog post, and I truly apologize. For some reason my desire to blog seemed to disappear, but today I got it back, and just at the right time! In my campaigns class, we had guest speaker Kathy Fleming talk to us. She  has worked on public relations teams for various health organizations and health clients. So pretty much the perfect person for a health communication junkie me to get to listen to. Currently her client is U.S. Preventive Medicine. Being that our health care system is crashing and burning right now, I was curious to find out more about this new organization. U.S. Preventative Medicine is launching a Prevention Plan, which is a new, fresh approach to health that focuses more on the prevention of disease, and not the cure. Its vision is to make the world a healthier place; its mission is to deliver better and lower health care costs through preventative medicine.

Immediately, I thought that this was a fantastic idea for improving health; clearly, the current system of treating the ill has not been working, as thousands of people go bankrupt from medical bills every year. What the U.S. Preventative Medicine tries to do is stop the disease before it comes, saving thousands of dollars and more importantly, thousands of lives. With the slogan “more good years” the Prevention Plan is an online health improvement program that many employers have been purchasing for their employees. The Prevention Plan enables individuals to determine their top health risks and receive a customized plan and coaching from nurses to lower those risks and become healthier. It allows people to take control of their own health and provides some great incentives to get healthier. Check out the basics of the Prevention Plan: (You can also check out more great videos by clicking here.) 

Not only does the Prevention Plan provide priceless benefits to members, it can also help to boost a company’s social image, which is what public relations is all about. Kathy mentioned that one of their target businesses has been Wal-Mart and I think this is a fantastic idea. Wal-Mart always is criticized for treating employees bad and if they purchase the plan and offer it to their employees, they will not only be helping their employees, but they will also improve their social image. A boost in social image would lead to a boost in customers, which essentially means more profits for Wal-Mart.  Therefore, the Prevention Plan has great benefits for not only employers, but also employees. Some companies have already taken on the plan to boost their image, such as Sam’s Club. Adding this plan as an option in their online store has attracted tons of media coverage. Check out the video:

To conclude, I am excited about this new approach to healthcare and think that it could really make some major changes. In addition, from a PR standpoint, it is a great way to boost any companies image. The success in the campaign launched by U.S. Preventive Medicine is a good example of how by working for public relations in the healthcare industry you cannot only work to change behavior, you can also work to directly save lives.

A Prescription for Action

2 Feb

In health communication, the first step is to get people to start listening. Once you have done this, congratulations, you’ve got an audience. But now that you’ve got them what do you say? How do you create health messages that will actually cause change? It is often found that people may listen to health promoting messages, but rarely do they actually change their behavior, and this is why so many health communicators fall short.

                What is getting in the way of people taking the step from information to action? Joye C. Gordon has identified four factors that are likely to influence health behavior adoptions in her Beyond Knowledge Guidelines. By identifying these factors, it will allow health communicators to develop more effective messages that will inspire behavior change.

1. Perception of self: Also known as self-efficacy, this is the extent to which people believe that they can successfully execute the behavior required to produce outcomes. Generally, higher evaluation of one’s own efficacy to perform an action correlates with increased likelihood of taking on that action. 

2. Perception of risk: This is the extent to which people perceive that they are at risk. Usually, when risk perceptions are low, people are unmotivated to change their behavior, resulting in rejection of your health message. Risk perception also correlates with perception of self. A  high level of perceived risk in combination with low perceptions of self can lead to a person rejecting the recommended behavior. Finding the right balance in the message is important. Ultimately, risk perceptions and feelings of concern are needed to motivate change, but you need to keep in mind your audience’s feelings about themselves.

3. Environmental conditions: This includes both physical and social conditions. Clearly, the physical environment a person is in affects his or her availability of health services, the costs they have, and transportation needs. The social environment comes into play in that the methods of interpersonal communication an audiences uses are a crucial link in achieving compliance. Therefore, messages should acknowledge social and physical restraints and provide motivations and ideas for overcoming them.

4. Perception of costs and benefits: This refers to how an individual assesses the advantages versus disadvantages of a recommended course of action. In short, if one expect the benefits to exceed the costs, they are more likely to change their behavior, and vice versa. Bottom line, health promotion messages should heighten perceived benefits of the recommendation while discounting the costs of adoption.

So there they are; the four most common factors that influence the adoption of healthful behavioral change. Using these in your health communication can lead to you effectively promoting and prompting behavior changes, so that once people listen, you can give them a reason to act.