Health awareness days: Empirical evidence to support the craze?
Background: Awareness days are a common health promotion strategy. Nearly 200 health awareness days, weeks, and months are on the U.S. National Health Observances calendar and over 145 awareness day bills have been introduced in U.S. Congress since 2005. Despite the ubiquity of health awareness days, a synthesis of research and scholarship about the intervention strategy does not exist.
Methods: We obtained the full-text of all PubMed articles that mentioned “awareness day(s)” in the title/abstract and conducted a content analsis with a focus on evidence of effectiveness and theoretical foundations of health awareness days.
Results: We identified 80 articles published between 1979-2015. The vast majority were commentaries and editorials that functioned to raise awareness about awareness days. Only six articles presented empirical results of an outcome evaluation; none evaluated an awareness day implemented in the U.S. Short-term changes in knowledge were the primary outcomes assessed and pre-/post-survey designs were most common. None of the articles explcitly identified a theory of health promotion or conceptual model through which the awareness day would improve health outcomes.
Conclusion: Awareness days have not been held to an appropriate level of scrutiny given the scale at which they have been embraced. There is a need for guidance to align a widely utilized health promotion strategy with standards of evidence-supported health promotion practice.
Learning Areas:Advocacy for health and health education
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Describe the current state of evidence about the effectiveness of health awareness days Design an evaluation strategy for a health awareness day
Keyword(s): Health Promotion and Education, Evidence-Based Practice
Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the lead author of the study, that has been accepted for publication in the American Journal of Public Health. I have a DrPH, MPH, MSc and am an Assistant Professor at an accredited school of public health.
Any relevant financial relationships? No
I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.