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Health Services Research & Development

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2008 HSR&D National Meeting Abstract

National Meeting 2008

3064 — Increasing Stroke Risk Factor and Prevention Awareness through Public Health Marketing

Beyth RJ (Rehabilitation Outcomes Research Center), Uphold CR (Rehabilitation Outcomes Research Center), Berger P (Rehabilitation Outcomes Research Center), Linn P (Rehabilitation Outcomes Research Center)

To implement a public health marketing campaign to raise awareness among veterans about risk factors for stroke and stroke prevention.

An eye-catching “Are YOU at risk for stroke?” poster featuring custom illustrations of the Beetle Bailey comic strip character “Sarge” demonstrating stroke risk and prevention behaviors was displayed in the waiting/lobby areas of 2 VA medical centers (Primary Care, Cardiology, and PM&R clinics) and 7 selected community-based outpatient clinics during National Stroke Awareness Month. A “TAKE ONE” postcard on the poster provided directions to request the free “Preventing Stroke” packet via the postage paid “take one” card, a toll-free number, or a Web-based request form. Campaign materials (poster, postcards, “Preventing Stroke” folder, educational pieces, emails, letters, Web forms, survey, mailing envelope, etc.) utilized the Sarge ‘risk’ and ‘prevention’ illustrations, as well as a military (red/white/blue and stars) theme, to grab the viewer’s attention and to create a consistent branding.

From May-September 2006, 441 “Preventing Stroke” packets were requested by veterans. Of the 167 follow-up surveys, 73% of veteran respondents reported learning something from the information that made them think they may be at risk for stroke. Additionally, veterans reported taking the following actions as a result of receiving the “Preventing Stroke” materials: 73% checked their blood pressure, 59% checked their cholesterol levels, 59% checked their blood sugar levels, 55% increased their physical activity, 52% changed (improved) their diet, 46% took a medicine suggested by their healthcare provider, 20% reduced their smoking, and 11% reported quitting smoking.

Increasing awareness about stroke risk factors and prevention led to behavior changes that could result in improved health and quality of life, and decreased risk for stroke and other disease conditions in the long-term.

Public health marketing campaigns play an important role in changing health behavior. By employing similar methods to commercial marketing - utilizing a recognizable “spokesperson” to deliver a brief yet memorable message (ex. Reduce Your Risk, Prevent A Stroke), creating a consistent look and feel (branding), and packaging materials in an appealing manner – we can engage and inform the veterans, empowering them to be an active participant in their health care.

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