Tag Archive | health promotion

What about Seniors: Anti Smoking Campaigns

Recently I have been scowering the web for any anti-smoking campaigns targeting seniors. So far I have come up with nothing, and it has been an unsuccessful attempt. So if you do know of any please share them.

But this lack of seniors-focused campaigns got me thinking. Why is it that campaign groups have given up on targeting the older population? Often these groups believe that if an adult has made it to a relatively late stage in their life already then they must be doing something right and most likely a more difficult population to change any health behaviors. However, statistics show that smoking significantly “increases postoperative complications such as myocardial ischemia and infection… Even temporary abstinence from smoking may reduce the risk of these complications and improve surgical outcomes” (Warner, 2005). Any quick glance at Health Canada’s stats will show that majority of patients using our healthcare system are those over 65 years. If quitting smoking prior to surgery can greatly improve their post-op outcomes shouldn’t we be targeting this group to give them the best chance possible?   

So far I am still unsuccessful in trying to find a smoking cessation campaign targeting seniors, in the meantime I have come across a few excellent videos that I thought I would share below.

Warner, David. (2005, January). Helping surgical patients quit smoking: Why, when, and how. International Anesthesia Research Society. Retrieved from http://www.anesth.umontreal.ca/3_etudes/documents/Arrettabagisme.pdf  

abruabcher, 2013



Social Mobilization: Who Is Involved?

I recently came across an interesting article on the role of “info-mediaries” within social mobilization. It really got me thinking about the actors involved within the process of social mobilization.

Who is it that mobilizes a society and produces change?shutterstock_world

I think it’s important to first talk about what social mobilization is.

What Is Social Mobilization?

Social mobilization, as the name suggests, is all about mobilizing society. It’s about empowerment and equity. It’s about taking action and producing social change. It’s about society. It’s about you and me.

Social mobilization, in the context of health promotion, is the process whereby various people and/or communities are engaged to raise awareness and promote social change on a health-related issue.

It’s about people taking action and making change for the common good.



The WHO (2003) notes that the above three elements are important components of social mobilization that are crucial for producing social change.

Health promotion is a social process and so is social mobilization. Social mobilization can be an intervention or it can serve as an intermediary that initiates dialogue and participation among various elements of society, all with the goal of promoting the common good (Panth, 2011). From a policy perspective, social mobilization serves as a supportive framework that focuses on resource allocation; from a grassroots perspective, social mobilization involves community empowerment in order to improve access to various health-related services, for example (Panth, 2011).

All in all, social mobilization is an integration of various stakeholders that work together towards a common goal.

The Importance of Social Capital

Social capital refers to the interaction between people. More specifically, it refers to the interactions that occur within social systems that harness these interactions (e.g. families, religious groups, etc.). The concept of social capital is one that is essential to the process of social mobilization. Social capital is so valuable that according to the WHO (2003), “Even in areas with limited economic capital, social capital has been shown to generate the energy and resources needed to effect changes in the community.”


The Role of “Info-Mediaries” in Social Mobilization

With stakeholder input, social capital, community engagement, and advocacy in mind, let’s move onto the idea of “info-mediaries” within social mobilization.


– work on the front line
– make contact with the appropriate clients
– are liaisons between management and stakeholders of the project
– recruited or voluntary
– can be expert professionals, NGOs, politicians, active youth (Panth, 2011)

Info-mediaries are important aspects of social mobilization because they identify stakeholders, encourage participation/stakeholder input, translate information for action, and advocate for improved resources/services (Panth, 2011). Info-mediaries, as their name suggests, mediate information between all of the various people involved within any social mobilization project. They connect different stakeholders and are the crucial channels of communication and information that can make any social mobilization work and be successful.

I would consider info-mediaries the “glue” that joins all of the different components of a social mobilization together.

Yet, what I find interesting is the opinion by some that info-mediaries are often overlooked within social mobilization literature. (I bet you hadn’t heard of info-mediaries before reading this post!) Some have stated that the significance of info-mediaries has been undermined; they are usually volunteers that are at the bottom of the hierarchy within social mobilization projects (Panth, 2011).

The lack of importance given to info-mediaries can lead to a “…one-way, top-down hierarchical informational flow at the cost of ignoring the vast storehouse of knowledge and potential of these ‘info-mediaries’ for two-way information exchange and knowledge sharing.” (Panth, 2011). The way I see it, info-mediaries are crucial aspects of social mobilization that aid with knowledge translation between the various actors involved. Without them, health cannot be promoted appropriately and goals cannot be reached adequately.

“Social mobilization seeks to facilitate change through a range of players engaged in interrelated and complementary efforts.” (UNICEF, 2012).

For more information, see the article by Panth (2011) on the World Bank blog: http://blogs.worldbank.org/publicsphere/node/5670

Other resources on social mobilization, including applications to prevalent health problems:

Social mobilization for health promotion. WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific (2003).




An interesting article on info-mediaries from a business perspective:


– Misha B.

22 Rules of Storytelling by Pixar

Yup… you read that right – even Pixar uses formulas for success!

As health promoters, so much of what we do involves storytelling. We can learn from places such as Pixar, because let’s face it… their stories are sticky. Almost anyone raised in North America can tell you who this guy is:


This list was originally tweeted by Emma Coats, a former story artist at Pixar who is now out in the world doing her own thing. I stumbled across this while reading Chris Blattman’s blog: ChrisBlattman.com – he is an associate professor at Columbia University in the field of political science and international development. He updates his blog frequently and his posts vary enough that there is usually something for everyone, whether they are a policy geek or not. For now, back to Pixar’s rules of storytelling. I’ve listed my four favourites below. (Why four? Why twenty-two? Why not?)

#4, Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.

#9. When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.

#15. If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.

#19. Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.

You can find the rest of the list over at aerogrammestudio.com

– Sarah Topps

Infographics and Vaccines: Information Contagion and Infection Control

I recently came across a new infographic that I love, and it reminded me to post on here about the importance of data visualization, especially when it comes to getting big messages across very quickly and in very few words. Our brains are visual. We only began reading and writing in the last few thousand years, and even then, it has been a rare gift and privilege for most of that time. However we have been visually absorbing information for as long as we, and our predecessors, have had eyes.

For some great online tools to create your own data visualizations, randing from prezi and pinterest to seal creators and gantt charts, I highly recommend that you check out this presentation: Data Visualization Tools PPT overview review created by Susan Kistler, (the American Evaluation Association’s Executive Director and aea365 blog  Saturday contributor). In her words, the presentation covers 25 tools that  “help us to merge truth and beauty“. You can download the full slidedeck from the AEA public eLibrary.

The infographic I mentioned (posted below) also reminded me that we, as health promoters are trying to s-p-r-e-a-d information and stop the spread of disease and poor health.


Source: http://blogs-images.forbes.com/matthewherper/files/2013/02/c6fb5feb7f1ee71b7e725277d3099916.jpg 

The above infographic was created by Leon Farrant, a graphic designer in Purchase, N.Y., using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

– Sarah Topps 2013

Rethink Breast Cancer Social Marketing Campaign

Recently I came across a video advertisement on Facebook:Rethink Breast Cancer: Your Man Reminder . As a young female I find many of the side panel advertisements targeted to my demographics, however this one was particularly daring. I remember hearing about it a few years ago when it was originally released, but thought I’d mention it again on our course blog as it has to do with Social Marketing in the Health domain.

Rethink Breast Cancer is an innovative approach to breast cancer education, support and research that attracts a younger target audience (<40 yrs) and attempts to meet their continually changing needs.

The target audience is suggested to be: modern, bold, culturally aware, youthful, and upbeat. In their 20’s, 30’s or early 40’s who are not necessarily responding to the typical breast cancer awareness campaigns of pink ribbons, teddy bears, cancer walks, or other brochure-type information packets.

The goal of Rethink Breast Cancer is to bring BOLD awareness to a prominent health concern by “foster[ing] a new generation of young and influential breast cancer supporters; infus[ing] sass and style into the cause; and most importantly, respond[ing] to the unique needs of young women going through it” (www.rethinkbreastcancer.com).

They are attempting to motivate young women to take responsibility for their breast health, focusing on prevention and early detection. By redesigning dated images, ideas, and language associated with breast cancer they are creating high-impact, fear-free messaging. Partnering with like-minded organizations to bring more awareness and resources to the cause and inspiring a new generation of breast cancer supporters.

This video is only way of the many creative advertisements for the Rethink Breast Cancer campaign, other outlets include: Support Saturdays, Breast Fest Film Festival, TellHER2.ca, appropriate print advertisements (ie. Chatelaine, Canadian Living, etc), and other partnerships (ie. American Eagle, Telus, Blackberry, O.P.I., Rebook, etc.

(abrubacher, 2013)