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The importance of research
GPs and their teams may want to promote specific services or change patients lifestyles. This could be through commissioning or work they do directly themselves. Good market research into the specific target group is essential. It gives information on two things. Firstly what is needed to change their behaviour. This could be in terms of information, skills, attitudes or improvements in services. Secondly, it can also show how to reach them. This is particularly important if they aren't interested in health. In this case they aren't likely to pick up a leaflet or notice a poster. But if services start from what patients are interested in, they may be able to engage them in health this way. Below are some examples of how this might be done.
There are a range of songs about health related topics such as emotional well being, relationships, diet, exercise, cancer, the menopause, addiction and sex. You can find some of them embedded on pages in this website and links to more of them here (but you'll need to scroll down) and here.
I spoke at an arts and health conference in Liverpool about this website in 2011. I met the well known GP, Dr Malcolm Rigler, who was another of the speakers there. He suggested that rather than McDonald's being the place where families take their kids for birthday parties it should be the local surgery. GPs and their staff routinely deal with issues such as births, relationships and deaths. Rather than just treating these, the surgery should become a place of education and celebration about them. If new surgeries were built with this in mind, a dedicated public space could also host entertainment with an element of education. Pop music, if handled well, could be a key part of this mix.
It may well be that research would show that crosswords and puzzles are popular with different groups within a GP's catchment area. If this is the case, then a palatable way of giving out health education may be to embed information within these formats. For more on this click here.
There are a variety of short clips linking humour and health, often produced by charities, available on YouTube. Some of them are also on pages on this website. GPs could also add them to their own websites too. For more on comedy click here.
There have been a number of computer games on health education themes. For more information click here and scroll down. If patients were asked for their email addresses links to appropriate games could be sent out to them.
Football matches or other football related activities may be a good way for GPs to access men and interest them in health checks and other issues. For more on using football click here.
Fashion and beauty
GPs could commission hairdressers to pass on health information when chatting with clients. For example, if they are talking about holidays to remind them about sun safety or to go to the GP for vaccinations if they are going to certain countries. For more on fashion click here.
(For references click here and links click here.)
To download the whole 180 page report on using popular culture to tackle health inequalities click here
To download the PDF software to be able to view these files click here