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Educational Campaigns

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.

COPD: Learn More Breathe Better

 image of COPD logoChronic 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

image of Hearth Truth logoThe Heart Truth® is a national awareness campaign for women about heart disease sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health. Through the campaign, launched in 2002, the NHLBI leads the nation in a landmark heart health awareness movement that is being embraced by millions who share the common goal of better heart health for all women.

This multifaceted campaign, which evolved through extensive formative research, primarily targets women ages 40-60. However, since heart disease develops over time and can start at a young age, efforts are also targeted to reach younger and older populations. The campaign message is paired with an arresting visual—The Red Dress®—designed to warn women that heart disease is their #1 killer. In 2002, the NHLBI created and introduced the Red Dress as the national symbol for women and heart disease awareness to deliver an urgent wake-up call to American women.

The Heart Truth’s strategic platform is to drive behavior change through an evolving mix of national and community programming that increases awareness among women that heart disease is their #1 health risk and prompts them to act. The campaign employs multifaceted implementation strategies, including:

  • Using a brand-driven social marketing mix of community-level interventions and national programming.
  • Showcasing real women—of all races, ages, and ethnicities—and their personal stories to put a face on heart disease.
  • Empowering women to understand their personal risk of heart disease, and take action to reduce their risk.
  • Working through community, media, and corporate partners to amplify the campaign’s messages and prompt women to act.
  • Reaching women of color by ensuring diversity and cultural relevance in all existing activities and materials, as well as implementing tailoring programs at the national and community levels.
  • Driving health professionals to discuss heart disease with their patients by working with the Office on Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to develop and disseminate professional education materials on women’s heart disease.

The Heart Truth campaign offers a wide variety of public health resources to help educate women and health professionals about women’s heart disease. These resources include a suite of print and online education materials; campaign Web pages and online tools; and social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter.

Key Heart Truth campaign activities include:

  • National Wear Red Day®: Held on the first Friday in February each year, women and men across the country unite and wear red to give women a personal and urgent wakeup call about their risk of heart disease.
  • The Heart Truth Road Show: Supported by campaign partners, The Heart Truth Road Show brings health education and heart disease risk factor screenings to populations in U.S. cities throughout the country at high risk for heart disease.
  • First Ladies Red Dress Collection: A unique display, which originally debuted at the John F. Kennedy Center in 2005, features red gowns and suits worn by America's First Ladies, as well as designer red dresses to raise awareness of women’s heart disease. The fourth installment of the Collection was unveiled at the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in College Station, Texas, in 2010.
  • Red Dress Collection Fashion Show: Each February, the Red Dress symbol has come to life on the runway and generated national media attention on the issue of women’s heart disease with the support of the fashion industry and celebrity models at this keynote campaign event.
  • Heart Truth Community Action Grant Program: In partnership with the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, the NHLBI has established a competitive grants program to fund community level programs and activities to educate women about heart disease and motive them to take action to lower their risk for the disease.

The Heart Truth is making progress in the fight against heart disease in women. The Red Dress has become one of the most recognizable health symbols in the United States. More women are living longer, healthier lives, and fewer are dying of heart disease. The Heart Truth campaign is continuing to build awareness among women and motivating them to take action for heart health.

We Can! (Ways to Enhance Children's Activity & Nutrition)

image of We Can! logoWe 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.

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