The Role of Marketing in Population Health: Part 3

By Susan Dubuque posted 11-06-2018 12:32

This is the third in a multi-part series of blogs presenting examples from around the country of how health care marketers are playing an integral role in deploying effective and innovative population health strategies for their organizations. (Read part 1 and part 2 here).

Information-Motivation-Behavioral Skills Model
There are a number of theories and models that marketers can use to help their organizations change the behavior of members of their community and thereby improving health. One such model is Information-Motivation-Behavioral Skills Model (IMB), introduced in 1992 by Fisher and Fisher as a means of changing risk behavior related to HIV/AIDS (Fisher et al. 2003). Since that time it has been applied to other fields, such as breast self-examination (BSE), drug and alcohol prevention, and motorcycle safety.

There are three elements—called constructs—in the IMB. And it may come as no surprise that they are: information, motivation, and behavioral skills.

Information refers to resources and data about health issues or related behaviors. For example, the case of BSE, this might involve information about breast cancer risk factors, the importance of self-examination, and the benefits of early detection.

Motivation is composed of personal motivation to practice the health behavior, such as one’s attitude about performing BSE each month, and social motivation to engage in the health behavior. An example of social motivation is encouragement and reminders from your circle of friends to perform BSE regularly. Buddy Check, for instance, is a health promotion program sponsored by television stations that taps social motivation to support monthly BSE.

Behavioral skills include both an individual’s actual ability to perform the behavior (called “objective” ability) and the confidence individuals have in their ability to perform the behavior (called “self-efficacy”). In the case of BSE, behavioral skills include knowing how to perform BSE and feeling comfortable that you are doing it correctly.

Let’s look at a real-world example of the Information-Motivation-Behavioral Skills Model.
The HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, a nonprofit in Huntsville, Alabama, launched a campaign in 2015 to inform residents of five counties in North Alabama about the benefits of genetic testing in understanding personal and family risk factors for various cancers and motivate the community to get tested.

The multi-channel campaign included outreach to government officials, large employers and churches, and primary care physicians and gynecologists. Promotional materials were created in-house. Tactics included news releases and public service announcements, brochure rack cards and posters for local businesses and medical offices, participation in community health events; Facebook ads, and a paid TV commercial. Community-sponsored advertising included free radio spots, print ads, digital banner ads and billboards.

The test, developed by Kailos Genetics, included the well-known BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes and looked at about two dozen genes linked to an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer as well as other diseases including colorectal and prostate cancer. A positive test doesn’t necessarily mean individuals will acquire cancer, and a negative test doesn’t mean they will be cancer-free. However, with the results of the test and input from a physician, participants can make the right choices regarding their own health.

Free genetic testing was made available to both men and women who are 30 years of age, and the rest of the population was offered the test for a reduced fee of $129. Through June 2017, 2,163 tests were performed, including 194 men. If a man tests positive for a defective gene (most commonly BRAC I or BRAC 2) he has a higher chance of developing breast cancer, and his children have a 50 percent chance of carrying the gene. Engaging men in any health behavior can be a challenge. But the motivator in this instance was the knowledge that being tested would benefit not just them, but all of the members of their families.

(This initiative was sponsored by Redstone Federal Credit Union.)

Watch for part 4 of this special Viewpoint blog series in February.

By Susan Dubuque | Posted November 6, 2018
Principal and co-founder
Richmond, Virginia