Heart Disease and Stroke: Campaigns & Promotions

Background on Campaigns & Promotions

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expandWhat are campaigns and promotions strategies?

collapseWhat are campaigns and promotions strategies?

  • Intervention strategies used to increase knowledge and awareness of heart disease and stroke as a community health problem as well as improve prevention, management and rehabilitation behaviors for heart disease and stroke (e.g., lifestyle changes to reduce weight or increase healthy behaviors, monitoring and taking medications to regulate blood pressure and cholesterol).  
  • These strategies are forms of informational outreach (e.g., articles, advertisements, promotional messages) through television, radio, newspapers, medical journals, billboards, websites, brochures, clothing, stickers and a number of other communication channels. Many of these campaigns or promotions use well-known public figures (e.g., athletes, local celebrities) to convey their messages. One of the most important lessons learned from previous work is the importance of using consistent messages across a variety of communication channels (e.g., print, television, radio). 
  • Using concise and consistent messages, campaigns and promotions can:
    • increase awareness of signs and symptoms of heart disease, heart attack and stroke;
    • enhance awareness and promote behavior change to prevent heart disease and stroke (e.g., increasing physical activity and healthy eating, quitting smoking);
    • minimize the impact of heart disease and stroke by improving knowledge, skills and behaviors related to management and rehabilitation (e.g., monitor and take medications to regulate blood pressure or cholesterol);
    • encourage support for programs, environmental changes and policies and practices influencing heart disease and stroke; and
    • change community norms related to preventing or managing heart disease and stroke.

expandHow can I use campaigns and promotions strategies in heart disease and stroke interventions?

collapseHow can I use campaigns and promotions strategies in heart disease and stroke interventions?

  • Campaigns and promotions may help to change behaviors in order to prevent  heart disease and stroke from occurring (primary prevention), or work with those who have already developed heart disease or stroke to decrease the negative effects of that condition through changing behaviors or rehabilitation (secondary prevention).
  • Campaigns and promotions, when used alone, can help to create community awareness about the importance of heart disease and stroke prevention, management and rehabilitation to health and quality of life.  Increasing knowledge and awareness is often the first step to supporting behavior change (e.g., eating health foods, getting physical activity, monitoring blood pressure or cholesterol and taking medication regularly). Therefore, campaigns and promotions may be particularly useful in helping individuals become ready to change their behavior.  
  • Previous work has suggested that those interventions that incorporate campaigns and promotions as well as strategies that act to create changes in policies, environments, support or skills are more effective than the use of campaigns and promotions alone. For example, campaigns and promotions may be connected to efforts to increase access to monitoring devices and medications for regulating blood pressure and cholesterol, train providers to counsel patients on healthy behaviors or enhance individual self-management skills. 
  • Heart disease and stroke campaigns and promotions are largely comprised of mass media campaigns and point–of-decision prompts (e.g., stair use, purchase of fruits and vegetables). These intervention strategies are designed to increase knowledge and awareness about the relationship between lifestyle choices and health, and to encourage prevention and management behaviors (e.g., physical activity, healthy eating, tobacco cessation, monitoring and taking medication for blood pressure and cholesterol). 

expandWhat are the different types of heart disease and stroke campaigns and promotions strategies?

collapseWhat are the different types of heart disease and stroke campaigns and promotions strategies?

  • Mass media campaigns use media channels(e.g., newspaper, radio, television, internet) to deliver heart disease and stroke messages to large numbers of people (e.g., schools, workplaces, communities, regions, states).
    • Campaigns translate what are often complicated concepts into specific, easily understood messages about heart disease and stroke.
    • Campaigns can provide messages about specific changes in lifestyle habits (e.g., consume less fat and salt, walk 10,000 steps a day) or provide more general recommendations (e.g., eat a balanced diet, get regular physical activity).
    • Campaigns can reach and educate large numbers of individuals about heart disease and stroke. If, for example, a mass media campaign in a large metropolitan area reaches 500,000 people and successfully increases heart disease and stroke diagnosis and subsequent treatment in 3% of the population, then the campaign has potentially affected the health of 15,000 adults.
    • Once campaigns are launched, staff time decreases because individuals read, watch or listen to the messages on their own.
    • Campaigns can be relatively less expensive per person than other strategies if the intervention is targeting a large community. Reaching this many people through other intervention strategies may require more time and funding than available.
    • Campaign messages and materials have the ability to be reused or updated for future efforts in this community or neighboring communities.
    • Yet, campaigns, particularly television advertisements, can be very expensive to get started.
    • Campaigns may need to be targeted to reach different populations (i.e., consider social, cultural, economic, or other characteristics) so they do not seem impersonal to individuals.
    • Campaigns may be difficult to evaluate in terms of tracking how many individuals actually received or read the messages, whether individuals changed behavior because of the mass media campaign and whether the behavior change has been sustained over time.
  • Point-of-decision prompts provide cues to action to encourage appropriate prevention, management or rehabilitation behaviors affecting heart disease and stroke. For example, signs or information may be distributed to increase the likelihood that people will purchase healthy foods through restaurants, vending machines and grocery stores; make physically active choices such as taking the stairs; and remember to check their blood pressure or cholesterol levels or take their medication.
    • Point-of-decision prompts have the ability to reach and educate large numbers of individuals with minimal cost.
    • Point-of-decision prompt messages are typically positively framed to highlight the benefits of healthy behavioral patterns (e.g., increasing physical well-being) rather than negatively framed (e.g., eating unhealthy foods and a lack of physical activity makes you overweight)
    • Point-of-decision prompts may have the greatest effects on changes in individual behavior at the beginning of the intervention. As individuals become accustomed to seeing point-of-decision materials, they may become less attentive and less interested in the messages communicated.

expandWhat should I consider when developing campaign and promotion messages for my heart disease and stroke intervention?

collapseWhat should I consider when developing campaign and promotion messages for my heart disease and stroke intervention?

  • The duration of campaigns and promotions influence their effectiveness in changing heart disease- and stroke-related knowledge and behaviors. While small-scale campaigns with specific messages tailored to population subgroups are more effective than larger campaigns, they may also have an overall lower population impact.  Likewise, longer, more intensive campaigns featuring frequent messages through a variety of communication channels are more effective in changing behavior as well as maintaining behavior change over time, but are far more complex and costly.
  • The most appropriate heart disease and stroke messages and ways to communicate those messages may differ depending upon the target population.  Campaigns and promotions may be intended for an entire community or they can be targeted to meet the needs or interests of a particular subgroup. For example, the message may be geared toward individuals with heart disease and stroke, pregnant mothers (e.g., how to manage high blood pressure), family members and caregivers, or health care providers. Alternately, messages may be conveyed in different languages and address cultural norms in different communities (e.g., Spanish, Vietnamese, food preparation, ideal body image).
  • Messages are often most effective if they are geared toward specific changes in knowledge, attitudes or beliefs about heart disease and stroke that are particularly salient for the group of interest (e.g., “everyone in my family has heart disease, so I will have it too no matter what I do”). This may be an opportunity to reach children in these families to motivate them to do everything they can to protect their own health (e.g., eats a well-balanced school lunch, participate in physical education activities).
  • Campaigns and promotions can provide a direct message about heart disease and stroke (e.g., quit smoking, monitor blood pressure and cholesterol levels) or they can provide an indirect message about changes in behavior, environments or policies that lead to improvements in prevention, management and rehabilitation related to heart disease and stroke (e.g., restrictions on billboards advertising tobacco products, promotional materials for farmers’ markets or new walking trails). 
  • Previous work also suggests the importance of framing messages positively rather than negatively (i.e., highlighting the benefits of healthy lifestyle choices rather than the consequences of these choices). 
  • In addition, promotional items may be used to promote awareness of the intervention (i.e., branding the materials with a logo and slogan) or enhance ability of individuals to engage in desired behaviors (e.g., providing nicotine replacement gum or patches, coupons for healthy foods, discounted gym memberships).

expandWith whom should I work to create campaigns and promotions strategies for heart disease and stroke interventions?

collapseWith whom should I work to create campaigns and promotions strategies for heart disease and stroke interventions?

  • To develop your campaign or promotion or to determine the most appropriate messages and ways to communicate those messages, it is often helpful to work with different community partners.  Examples of potential partners include:
  • consumer organizations (e.g., supermarkets, restaurants, gyms)
  • producers, distributors, and manufacturers (e.g., food, tobacco, active/sedentary recreation)
  • civic organizations/ community organizations (e.g., Head Start, Boy/ Girl Scouts, YMCA, 4H Club)
  • advocacy organizations (e.g. American Heart and Stroke Association, AARP.(e.g., clean air, green space preservation)
  • community health coalitions
  • schools
  • worksites
  • local health departments and Missouri Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program.
  • health care services (e.g., clinics, hospitals)
  • metropolitan centers
  • media (e.g., newspaper, billboards, television, radio)
  • communications or advertising agencies
  • researchers and evaluators
  • celebrities and professional athletes
  • elected officials/ policy-makers/ decision-makers/ community leaders
  • government agencies (e.g., Area Agencies on Aging ,transportation, planning, WIC, food stamps, social services, parks and recreation, community development, economic development)
  • senior/ independent living facilities
  • churches, faith-based organizations
  • neighborhood organizations and community members


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