Healthy Behavior Change – The Vital Role of Communication

There’s no question well designed, adeptly placed communications can prove instrumental, if not pivotal, in helping re-route unhealthy behavior. From road safety to smoking cessation to infant death prevention, significant mass media campaigns targeting these causes have played a role in changing outcomes. A newly released study published in The Lancet provides insight into the role media can play in positive behavior change. Key learnings include:

  • Consider the Messenger. Tobacco companies sponsoring anti-smoking campaigns can provide mixed messaging to the consumer and lead to unintended results (much in the same way consumers receiving healthy behavior messages from their health insurance company may inspire suspicion more than motivation)
  • Rinse. Repeat. Healthy behavior change is substantially improved when multiple, repeated interventions are used
  • It’s a Marathon, not a Race. Particularly in battles of reshaping daily behavior patterns – tobacco control, nutrition, exercise, etc., it’s the sustainment of new behaviors that are most challenging and require multi-level interventions (the kind well-integrated wellness solutions provide)
  • Beware the Media Blitzkrieg. Mass media campaigns are hindered by evolving obstacles, not the least of which include daily competition within “increasingly fractured and cluttered media.” The same clutter spills into our work lives, making the need for multi-modal, mobile enabled and personalized solutions that much more critical in transforming message to meaning.

Getting the right message to the individual consumer is just part of the battle. Making that message stick, resonate, motivate and follow them into the arena of healthy behavior change takes more than strong messaging alone. It takes effective infrastructure, placement, personalization and timely motivation. We all know media is powerful. With the right focus and delivery system, it can be invaluable.

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