How to use people's own interests and passions, such as pop music and football, to improve their health

Overview: Health & Popular Culture

Any organization can use popular culture to engage a
desired target group if they do the research. This clip is
about cancer of the prostrate. One piece is a bit sexist. This
highlights a classic dilemma in health promotion. How far
should you go in engaging a target group from their own
perspective on life?

Feel like the target group

Health service modernisation requires that the health sector engages with the public, particularly those currently called 'underserved' or 'hard to reach' in a value for money way. I argue in this site that one way you can cost-effectively engage with people is to start where they are. I have too often myself made the mistake as a health worker of assuming that others are as interested in health as me - or should be. Instead I think sometimes we would be better off finding out what interests or pastimes target groups feel passionate about e.g. football or computer games. We can then link one or more of these interests to the health issue we are concerned about. I explore two ways this can be done. One is through direct approaches e.g. encouraging people who like pets to walk their dogs more often. However the site mainly focuses on using people's interests to educate them about health. This is called edutainment. It augments rather than replaces leaflets, press releases and other more traditional forms of communication. It also fits in well with other public health approaches around social norms or resilience.

There is now a relatively cheap way of finding out what interests the public. A company called Experian provide social market information on around 60 subgroups of the British population. This service is called Mosaic. It can be purchased by local authority area for a few thousand pounds. As well as giving data about health, Mosaic also lists a subgroup's interests such as pop music, football etc. Alternatively you could do your own local research. This will probably be necessary anyway at some point to find out exactly how to change a target group's health behaviour. Mosaic won't for example explain what barriers a group faces in giving up smoking or what would help them do so. This information will be needed to tie in with the kind of popular culture you want to use to engage them. Mosaic's subgroups also may not at times neatly tie in with the people you are trying to reach.

How we can use popular culture to improve health
The purpose of this site is to
* Help you reduce health inequalities in your area by using edutainment to reach the 'hard to reach' and change their behaviour
* Create a debate around how to systematically use edutainment as part of the UK government's social marketing strategy
* Start a network that can use these pages to share evidence of best practice, news of conferences, funding opportunities etc

I don't see the site as being definite or having all the answers. It does however provide examples of possible theories to apply and examples of projects from all over the world. I hope this will both stimulate debate and encourage fully evaluated pilot projects.

To read a paper on a systematic way of using edutainment click here

Edutainment areas covered in this website
This website is divided into a number of different sections. Most of the web pages themselves are fairly brief. However there is a much longer PDF on most of them. These are chapters from a report I have written on edutainment. A PDF of the full report is downloadable at the bottom of this page. The different sections in this website are:
* Edutainment
This section summerizes the whole approach. It links edutainment into the UK government's commitment to social marketing
* Wonderous Stories
Stories are everywhere in modern culture from adverts to news reports to Harry Potter. However we underuse them as health workers. They underpin many of the approaches described in this website, so I have given them a section of their own
* Music, Written Word, Comedy, Football and Computer Games
There are separate sections on all these topics. The section on the written word is further broken down into books, magazines, comics and crosswords
* Arts and Health
Not all art is popular with the public, but the attachment on this page explains the various ways to use the arts for health purposes
* Other forms of popular culture
This includes a quick look at pets and fashion as well as other topics
* The change professions
The professions I look at here include community development workers, teachers, public health staff, advertisers, marketing experts, social marketing specialists and PR officers. I show the links between their disciplines and edutainment
* Topics
These include sexual health, alcohol and drugs, smoking, mental health, diet and physical activity
* Evaluation

This is about how to evaluate the use of edutainment
* References
This page includes academic references used in this internet site. (However, the embedded documents have their own references within them.) 
* Events
 This section lists any relevant conferences etc that are imminent. Please let me know if you want anything added.
* Link pages
These includes links to sites mentioned in the report and links to other relevant sites. Please let me know if you would like a reciprocal link adding

Work with me
If you are interested in talking to me about how I can help your organization, this section give you more information about me. Although I cannot fund anyone, the PDF on this page does give advice on how to raise money for edutainment

(For references click here and links click here.)

To download my whole 180 page report on using popular culture to tackle health  inequalities click here

To simply download the summary, recommendations etc click here

To download the PDF software to be able to download these files click here