Health education campaigns are one aspect of larger programs of professional, patient, and public education designed to reduce the risk and consequences of heart, lung, and blood disease. NHLBI campaigns focus on raising awareness and disseminating key messages to increase healthy behaviors. Social marketing techniques are used to identify and segment target audiences, develop communications strategies, and convey messages. Establishing and maintaining partnerships is a key ingredient in success of the health education campaign. Partner organizations help assures that the campaign messages continue to have the support of the gatekeepers who are the all important conduit to the target audiences.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a serious lung disease that makes it hard to breathe. It is the 3rd leading cause of death in the United States and if not treated, can cause serious, long-term disability. In 2007, The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) along with leading professional societies, health organizations, and advocacy groups launched the COPD Learn More Breathe Better® (LMBB) campaign to raise public awareness about COPD, particularly among those at risk, those who have the disease, and health care providers.
Anyone can have trouble breathing once in a while. But for those who have COPD debilitating symptoms, such as chronic cough, wheezing and shortness of breath can seem relentless. Unfortunately, many who are at risk for COPD dismiss early symptoms as a normal result of aging or being out of shape. Using public service announcements, social media, community-based outreach, email newsletters, educational videos, and local events, the campaign encourages the estimated 24 million Americans living with COPD to recognize the signs and symptoms and talk with their health care provider about being tested. At the same time, the campaign educates health care providers about the rising prevalence of COPD, which patients are at risk for the disease, methods for early detection, and treatment options.
To plan and execute the national effort, the NHLBI continues to bring together relevant stakeholders. These include COPD patients and caregivers, members of advocacy organizations including the American Lung Association and COPD Foundation, and medical societies like the American Thoracic Society. Most recently, the NHLBI partnered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to amplify the campaign’s message, conduct surveillance, and bring COPD Learn More Breathe Better tools to key partners.
The NHLBI is also working with local COPD coalitions and state COPD task forces to integrate the campaign with their outreach efforts. Efforts include:
- Conducting numerous local education events where attendees can have COPD questions answered, find out if they may be at risk, and receive complimentary lung health screenings, which are conducted by campaign partners.
- Funding organizations to hold state COPD summits, develop and implement state COPD plans, hold COPD "best practices" workshops with medical providers, promote campaign materials, and distribute LMBB resource kits.
- Forming the COPD Learn More Breathe Better Network to allow local partners to take advantage of campaign materials and conduct outreach activities. The network continues to expand and now includes 60 partners in 30 states.
Moving forward, the NHLBI will continue to engage relevant stakeholders to educate and raise public awareness about COPD. The COPD Learn More Breathe Better campaign will expand its mobilization of state and local COPD coalitions as advocates for COPD education. Moreover, the NHLBI will develop new creative strategies to generate national and community outreach to both those at risk for COPD and health care professionals to increase the availability of (and access to) optimum treatment for those diagnosed with COPD.
The Heart Truth® (www.hearttruth.gov), sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health, is a national program for women that raises awareness about heart disease and its risk factors and educates and motivates them to take action to prevent the disease. Through the program, launched in 2002, the NHLBI leads the Nation in a landmark heart health movement embraced by millions who share the common goal of better heart health for all women.
The centerpiece of The Heart Truth is the Red Dress℠, which was created by the NHLBI and introduced as the national symbol for women and heart disease awareness in 2002. The Red Dress® is a powerful red alert that inspires women to learn more about their personal risk for heart disease and take action to protect their heart health.
The Heart Truth is a science-based health education program built on a strong foundation of formative research. Informed by health behavior and health communications theory, the program’s underlying strategy is to implement a brand-driven social marketing mix of national programming and community interventions to raise awareness of heart disease and drive behavior change among the primary target audience—American women ages 40 to 60. The program’s objectives recognize the critical need to eliminate health inequities by placing an emphasis on reaching African American and Hispanic women with heart health awareness messages and science-based public education information.
The Heart Truth’s strategic framework is built on three pillars: national-level awareness-raising activities, community activation, and partnerships. From this framework, multiple tactics are developed, implemented, and evaluated to achieve The Heart Truth’s objectives. National-level activities, such as National Wear Red Day®, are designed to broadly raise awareness of heart disease and its risk factors among American women. Community activation, including The Heart Truth’s Community Action and Champions programs, provides community-level education to women of color and low income. Using multicultural, science-based resources, these programs help motivate women to make healthy lifestyle behavior changes. Partnerships with a wide variety of organizations—community, media, corporate, Government, nonprofit, and health professional—leverage The Heart Truth’s outreach to its target audience, amplify the program’s key public health messages, and support national activities and community programming.
The Heart Truth is one of the Nation’s most successful and impactful public health education initiatives. The program has contributed to an increased awareness among women that heart disease is their leading cause of death—a 2012 American Heart Association survey showed that such awareness nearly doubled over the past 12 years, from 30 percent to 56 percent. The Red Dress symbol has achieved broad recognition and engaged the support of a significant portfolio of national- and local-level partners that contribute to achieving The Heart Truth’s goal. The NHLBI’s research and resulting science-based public health messaging and materials are helping women across the country learn to recognize their personal risk for heart disease and take behavioral action to protect their heart health.
We Can! (Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity & Nutrition) ® is a fast-growing, national movement of families and communities coming together to promote healthy weight in children and youth. Four Institutes of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have come together to sponsor We Can!. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, in collaboration with the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the National Cancer Institute, has combined their unique resources and activities to make We Can! a national success. The program aims to provide children and their parents with tips, tools, and other resources while focusing on three important behaviors: improved food choices, increased physical activity and reduced time in front of television screens and video devices. We Can! provides parents, caregivers and communities—from the smallest towns to the largest cities—with ready-to-use, science-based resources and education programs that encourage healthy lifestyles for 8- to 13-year-olds and the entire family.
We Can! encourages children and families to eat right by providing information on a range of topics, including how to limit foods high in fat and added sugar, recommended portions sizes, smart food shopping, fun family recipes and other useful strategies. We Can! recommends that families make an activity plan that incorporates fun and energy-burning activities to maintain a healthy weight. We Can! also has developed Screen Time Reduction Tools to help families reduce time spent on the computer and watching television and increase the time being spent engaging in physical activity.
We Can! also offers organizations, community groups, and health professionals a centralized resource to promote a healthy weight in youth through community outreach, partnership development, and media activities. We Can! has a wide range of resources for communities that can be adapted to meet the needs of diverse populations. Local groups and organizations may register with the NIH to make a commitment to run We Can! programming for parents/caregivers and children/youth. Since 2005, the number of these registered community sites has jumped from 14 to more than 1,441 (as of December 2010). We Can! is currently working closely with both established and new sites to provide the types of programs and resources that bring entire communities together to help children maintain a healthy weight through better lifestyle choices.
The growth of We Can! is a testament to the program’s appeal and the great need for these kinds of resources around the country. From North to South, East to West, the We Can! movement is steadily growing throughout the United States and in 12 other countries. We Can! engages partners—ranging from Fortune 500 companies and other corporations to non-profit organizations and government agencies—working with them to develop new and effective strategies and tactics to help grow the program.