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21-08-2013 | Respiratory | Article

Marketing campaign boosts older adult asthma awareness

Abstract

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medwireNews: Researchers in Australia report that a community-level social marketing campaign has been successful in raising asthma awareness among older adults.

The campaign, called “Get Your Life Back,” resulted in increased visits to the doctor and calls to an asthma information line from adults with recent respiratory symptoms in the target community compared with a control community.

“Older adults who have not received an asthma diagnosis tend to believe that asthma is primarily a disease that affects children, and no not perceive that they could be susceptible…” explains the team, led by Uwana Evers (University of Wollongong, New South Wales).

“Recent reviews have recommended that governments and communities undertake public health programs to raise community awareness of asthma amongst older adults, enhance older adults’ understanding of asthma, and address commonly held misperceptions,” they write in BMC Public Health.

Their study involved a 3-month social marketing campaign aimed at encouraging older adults not to view respiratory symptoms as a normal part of aging, and to call an information line or visit their doctor if they had experienced symptoms. Materials included posters and postcards, which were disseminated to community centers, pharmacies, cafes, leisure centers, and grocery stores in the target region, and advertisements in bus shelters, public bathrooms, and shopping centers.

Throughout the 3 months, campaign postcards were delivered to every household in the target region and asthma information stalls were also set up in large shopping centers on two occasions. Additionally, there were nine news stories about the campaign across local media channels.

Using a baseline and follow-up survey, the researchers assessed the asthma knowledge and perceptions of 316 respondents in the intervention region and 394 in the control region. The mean age was 67.7 years and 18.6% had a diagnosis of asthma. Overall, 13.8% had an asthma diagnosis and respiratory symptoms (“wheezers”) and 33.5% had respiratory symptoms but no asthma diagnosis (“strugglers”).

Overall, 27.3% of “wheezers” and 14.0% of “strugglers” reported visiting a healthcare professional as a result of the campaign.

The team found that while there were no overall changes in asthma perceptions as a result of the campaign, and no detectable effects on asthma knowledge, those who recalled seeing the campaign had higher knowledge about symptoms and triggers.

Additionally, the number of calls to an asthma information line increased to 29 during the campaign compared with nine in the 3-month period prior.

Evers and colleagues say that campaigns such as theirs could be influential in tackling underdiagnosis of asthma and poor management in older adults.

“Though ‘Get Your Life Back’ achieved only modest changes in asthma knowledge in the intervention region, future interventions that ensure more frequent exposure to relevant campaign messages over an extended period of time could expect to observe changes in knowledge and perceptions of a particular health issue,” they conclude.

medwireNews (www.medwirenews.com) is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2013

By Kirsty Oswald, medwireNews Reporter

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