Transforming Consumer Health

Debra L. Scammon, Punam A. Keller, Pia A. Albinsson, Shalini Bahl, Jesse R. Catlin, Kelly L. Haws, Jeremy Kees, Tracey King, Elizabeth Gelfand Miller, Ann M. Mirabito, Paula C. Peter and Robert M. Schindler
Journal of Public Policy & Marketing
Current average rating    
Key Takeaways

Executive Summary
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA 2010) is intended to transform the U.S. healthcare system. Its success will require the transformation of consumers’ views about health and their willingness to participate in healthy behaviors. The authors identify three barriers to consumers’ engagement in healthy behaviors: (1) understanding of health information, (2) health decision-making, and (3) maintenance of healthy behaviors. For each barrier, the authors summarize the obstacles consumers face and what we know about strategies that work to help consumers overcome the barriers. Using a social marketing perspective, the authors suggest actions for healthcare providers, marketers, and policy makers to help overcome these barriers and for future transformative research in the area of general health.

The authors note a gap between health-related behaviors and health goals. They acknowledge that consumers have difficulty making trade-offs between health and other life goals. Health education in the form of more information, especially statistical information, is unlikely to bridge the gap. They recommend the use of personal stories, vivid and graphical presentations and health information tailored to individual consumers or segments. Environmental constraints make attainment of health goals difficult; finding and using health information, locating convenient sources for healthy food, and accessing publically available sites for safe exercise, among others. The authors highlight opportunities to use policy to minimize environmental constraints and to facilitate the availability of needed information, including provider performance reports.

The authors note that communication between patients and providers may not be effective and encourage more emphasis on patient-centered communication. Strengthening healthcare providers’ listening and patient engagement skills could lead to more patient adherence to provider recommendations. Health coaches may have an important role in helping consumers set and achieve health goals. The authors highlight the benefits that are achievable through the electronic exchange of health information across medical and non-medical settings.

The authors encourage researchers to explore what assistance consumers need in making and implementing plans and what tools they would find useful for goals setting and monitoring. To enhance accessibility, research is also needed to determine when and how consumers integrate information gained from social networking sites into their healthcare decisions.

Finally, they note that a change from a focus on quick fixes to one of health-maintaining behaviors is needed. They encourage consumers to adopt a long-term perspective towards their health and to recognize that enduring changes occur gradually so persistence is key. They recommend what they term “time-release” practices to assist consumers in making this shift. Opportunities for internet, social media, and mobile interventions abound and can be supported by healthcare providers and policy makers. Research is needed to determine which health-behavior maintenance practices are most effective and when. And metrics are needed to assess their effectiveness.

Debra L. Scammon (PhD, UCLA) is the Emma Eccles Jones Professor of Marketing at the David Eccles School of Business, University of Utah. Scammon’s primary research interest is in consumers’ ability to navigate the marketplace while making complex decisions. In the area of healthcare, this includes understanding how consumers make choices about treatments and preventive care, their engagement in decisions about their care, and their readiness for self-management. She is particularly interested in consumers’ engagement in the use and sharing of health information electronically, including their use of health social networking sites and provider performance reports. She is currently working on two Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality funded projects exploring the redesign of primary care practice models to be more patient-centered. Her research has appeared in Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Marketing, Journal of Consumer Affairs, and Journal of Advertising. She is a past editor of Journal of Public Policy & Marketing.

Punam A. Keller is the Charles Henry Jones Third Century Professor of Marketing at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. Professor Keller has a joint appointment at the Tuck School and at Dartmouth Medical School. Her research focuses on designing communication programs to influence the voluntary behavior of target audiences in order to improve individual and collective well-being, with an emphasis on health and retirement communications. She was president of the Association for Consumer Research, a member of the ACR advisory committee on Transformative Consumer Research, Co-Chair of the Transformative Consumer Research, and Advertising and Consumer Psychology Conference, and Co-Chair for CDC’s Annual Health Marketing Conference 2010. Her health industry experience includes consulting and executive development with a number of companies such as Merck, Equitable Life Assurance, Kaiser Permanente, Aetna, Humana, American Cyanamid, Eli Lilly, Blue Cross Blue Shield, CVS/Caremark, and National Health Services (UK).

Pia A. Albinsson, Ph.D. New Mexico State University, is Assistant Professor of Marketing at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. She researches advertising effectiveness, health prevention, community networks, and green consumption practices. She has published her research in the European Journal of Marketing, Journal of Consumer Behaviour, and Advances in Consumer Research.

Shalini Bahl completed her PhD in marketing from UMass, Amherst with a dual focus on the dialogical nature of self and technology. She has worked as assistant professor at the University of Utah and in 2009 started a marketing and social media consulting firm called iAM Business Consulting. Her mission through her consulting, workshops, and research is to bring mindfulness in the personal and professional lives of people. Within the personal realm, Dr. Bahl is motivated to bring self awareness and mindful lifestyles to consumers so they can enjoy healthy and fulfilling lives. In the business context, Shalini brings mindful ways of using social media and marketing strategy so businesses can be purposeful and enhance all stakeholders’ well being. Her research has been published in top marketing journals including Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, and Journal of Advertising. Her current work and research focuses on using social media and marketing for building sustainable businesses and local economies.

Jesse R. Catlin is a doctoral student in Marketing at The Paul Merage School of Business, University of California, Irvine. His research interests include consumer affect and risk perceptions, pharmaceutical marketing/regulatory policy, and the drivers and consequences of environmentally conscious behavior

Kelly L. Haws is an assistant professor of marketing and Mays Research Fellow at Mays Business School at Texas A&M University. She joined Mays after receiving her Ph.D. in Marketing from the University of South Carolina in 2007. Haws also holds both a BBA and an MBA from Mississippi State University and previously worked in the mortgage industry. Professor Haws teaches Consumer Behavior at both the undergraduate and graduate level and has twice received the University Level SLATE Award for excellence in teaching at Texas A&M. In addition, she has been recognized as a Montague Center for Teaching Excellence Scholar. Haws’ research interests include consumer self-control and goal-related behavior, product retention and environmental consumption attitudes, measurement issues, and behavioral pricing. Dr. Haws’ research has been published in Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Marketing Research, Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, and Marketing Letters. Haws was selected as a MSI Young Scholar in 2011.

Jeremy Kees is an Assistant Professor of Marketing at Villanova University. His research interests include intertemporal choice, consumer risk, and advertising/promotions effectiveness. His recent public policy related research examines cigarette warning labels, consumer processing of nutrition information, food supplement claims, and direct-to-consumer prescription drug advertising. His research has been published in various journals including Journal of Public Policy Marketing, American Journal of Public Health, Journal of Advertising, Journal of Interactive Marketing, Psychology and Marketing, Journal of Consumer Affairs, and Journal of Current Issues and Research in Advertising. Professor Kees has presented his research at numerous academic conferences around the world.

Tracey King is an Assistant Professor of Marketing in the Kogod School of Business at American University in Washington, DC. She received her PhD in Marketing from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, GA. Her research interests revolve around the interpretation of consumer behavior and consumer decision making. She is particularly interested in understanding the motivational factors underlying decisions that have implications for consumer health and well-being. She primarily focuses on topics such as consumer attitudes and intentions, risk perceptions, and socio-cultural influences. Her work employs both quantitative and qualitative research methodologies, which has led to an additional interest in measurement theory and response biases. In 2008, she coauthored the lead article, “The Cultural Construction of Risk Understandings Through Illness Narratives,” in Journal of Consumer Research. Tracey recently received the Kogod Faculty Award for Outstanding Research at American University.

Elizabeth G. Miller (PhD, University of Pennsylvania) is assistant professor of marketing at the Carroll School of Management, Boston College. Her research focuses on the way consumers interpret and respond to information, particularly for highly stressful or emotional experiences. Her work has been published in Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Marketing Research, and Journal of Service Research.

Ann M. Mirabito is Assistant Professor of Marketing at Baylor University. Her research investigates how consumers make complex decisions related to value (quality evaluations, price fairness, and risk perception). She has a secondary research interest in services marketing, particularly in the context of health care, where she has explored ways stakeholders can act to improve outcomes and value. Her work has appeared in Harvard Business Review, MIT Sloan Management Review, and medical journals including Annals of Internal Medicine and Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Paula C. Peter, PhD, is a faculty member of the Marketing Department at San Diego State University since Fall 2007. She completed a BS in Communication Sciences from University of Lugano (Switzerland) in 2002, and an MS and PhD in Marketing from Virginia Tech in 2007. She was selected as the recipient of the 2007 Pamplin College Outstanding Graduate Student Award. Her research interests are related to consumer decision-making, emotional intelligence and the application of psychological constructs and marketing techniques to issues related to consumer welfare. Her expertise is on the role of emotions and emotional intelligence in consumer decision making, with special emphasis on strategies in order to help consumers help themselves. In 2009, she became certified as emotional intelligence trainer and test administrator at Yale University. She recently published a book, Emotional Intelligence and Health: An Empirical Investigation of the Role of Emotional Intelligence in the Adoption and Maintenance of a Healthy Diet/Weight.

Robert M. Schindler is Professor of Marketing at Rutgers University-Camden. He has carried out numerous studies of consumer perception and motivation, especially concerning effects of price endings and price promotions, and has received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Fordham University Pricing Center. His research interests also include the role of early experience in consumer tastes and preferences, the power of online word-of-mouth communication, and consumer behavior phenomena related to superstition and spirituality. His work has appeared in journals such as Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Marketing Research, Journal of Retailing, Journal of Advertising, Journal of Consumer Psychology, Psychology & Marketing, Journal of Interactive Marketing, and Journal of Business Research.

Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, Volume 30, Number 1, Spring 2011
View Table of Contents

Author Bio:

Debra L. Scammon, Punam A. Keller, Pia A. Albinsson, Shalini Bahl, Jesse R. Catlin, Kelly L. Haws, Jeremy Kees, Tracey King, Elizabeth Gelfand Miller, Ann M. Mirabito, Paula C. Peter and Robert M. Schindler
Add A Comment :

Become a Member
Access our innovative members-only resources and tools to further your marketing practice.