Prioritising The Health Priorities
The messages of health promotion are universal; but are they coming over sufficiently effectively to the person in the street?
There are a number of things which anyone can do to enhance their chances of good health – don’t smoke, don’t drink too much, get some exercise and eat sensibly are the main bits of advice; and we could add to that, try to live in a physically healthy environment, make sure you have your immunisations, check ups and the like, and give your kids a good start in life (breastfeed, cuddle and talk to them, etc).
Not really rocket science, is it?
Why local priorities?
Given these universal priorities, the way healthy living is often promoted sometimes puzzles me. The messages are simple, and can I suspect be targeted quite straightforwardly where they have most effect. So why the huge plethora of leaflets, people and campaigns?
Of course some individuals will always want more than the generic message, and that’s good – if they know, they’ll probably tell others – but I suspect that the huge amount of ‘individually packed’ info which comes into play at the level of single primary care trusts is sometimes more confusing than helpful.
There are of course some priorities which apply more to certain places and people than others – smoking and unhealthy eating are two examples – but the wider the campaign, the more effect it will have.
Health promotion is often marketing
Perhaps I’ve got it wrong, but marketing is a specialist activity, and lots of health promotion boils down to marketing. And marketing often seems to work best when the message is simple.
By all means have more info ready in the wings, but perhaps more visible messages from the ‘centre’ would be helpful too. It’s beginning to happen, but it’s not yet connected for everyone.