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Communicating to change behavior: Conditions for successful national health education and promotion campaigns

Janis L. Biermann, MS, March of Dimes, 1275 Mamaroneck Avenue, White Plains, NY 10605, 914-997-4434, jbiermann@marchofdimes.com

The federal government and many non-profit organizations spend great resources on the development and implementation of national public health education and promotion campaigns designed to effect some behavior change. But do these campaigns work? What are the components of campaigns and what criteria are used to claim success? How long does it take to change behavior? This session will explore whether national public health education and promotion campaigns are an effective means to effect behavioral change in targeted populations, and answer the aforementioned questions. A review of some of the major national health educational campaigns will be provided, focussing on the messages and the impact of each on effecting behavior change. Research on health promotion programs have shown that four conditions—situational, programmatic, theoretical and methodological-- need to be met for programs to be successful. The importance of these four conditions may vary by health topic and by population. These conditions and the priority of each in select successful campaigns will be discussed. The role of evaluation will be highlighted as an integral component of successful campaigns. Lessons learned on communicating for behavior change from the successful campaigns as well as from some which are yet-to-be-proven will be shared. The implications of these lessons learned for health education program planners will be considered.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, the learner will be able to

Keywords: Health Behavior, Communication Effects

Related Web page: marchofdimes.com

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: March of Dimes
I have a significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.
Relationship: I work for the March of Dimes and was the director of the National Folic Acid Campaign and also am chair of the March of Dimes Prematurity Campaign

Innovations in Teaching, Researching, and Applying Health Communication

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA