Blog / Change health consumer mindsets through positive role modeling.

Change health consumer mindsets through positive role modeling.

Jean McCoy  -  1/14/2021

With the start of a new year, many of us feel extra motivation to make positive changes in our lives, especially improving our health. This can be a transformational opportunity for someone living with a chronic disease or condition that they are not effectively managing. But motivation can quickly falter without a clear understanding of what success looks like and how to get there.

That’s where positive role modeling comes in. Being exposed to someone who has accomplished your goals can provide three very important things:

  • Evidence that your goal is achievable
  • Information about how to achieve your goal
  • Encouragement from someone who understands your perspective


The negativity bias.

With so many digital platforms available, including social media, blogs, and dedicated health communities, finding others has never been more accessible for people diagnosed with any given health condition.

These interactions can be valuable, but often fail to provide a representative picture about the risks and benefits of individual treatments. Like anything discussed online, it’s the critics who are typically the most vocal and their opinions don’t always come from personal experience. We’ve seen treatments that boasted strong clinical results become the subject of viral negative criticism based on the labeled side effects rather than actual personal experience.

For pharma brands, combatting these messages and providing a more balanced view isn’t as simple as joining discussions and posting additional information. Consumers view content from brands far more skeptically than content shared by peers, whom they tend to see as more like themselves and without ulterior motives.

Finding a new narrative.

One of our clients recently found themselves in this situation and reached out for help. Our approach?

We started by bringing together people who had taken the treatment for a series of content gathering sessions. We encouraged them to interact with one another in an open dialogue so we could identify important shared experiences. What emerged was a shared outlook of self-efficacy—Advocates who saw themselves as fierce warriors against a disease. This sentiment drove a content strategy new to the category and perhaps new in bio-pharmaceutical marketing—one rooted in a sense of power. These “fighting words” inspired the campaign and allowed the brand to celebrate the fierce determination of the Advocates.

Shifting mindsets.

It’s essential to share Advocate success stories in a way that helps others connect with both the overall story and the elements that helped an Advocate successfully navigate their disease. The goal is to paint a picture in the mind’s eye that is memorable and gives other patients their own compass towards success.

Positive role modeling can activate healthcare consumers to improve two key measures that have a critical impact on health outcomes:

  • Health literacy, which is the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.
  • Self-efficacy, or the extent to which people believe they are capable of performing specific behaviors in order to attain certain goals.


Identifying positive role models.

A strategy based on amplifying the authentic experiences of positive role models hinges on finding the right people. We recommend casting a wide recruitment net and intensive screening to identify individuals who embody:

  • High health literacy
  • A positive, empowered outlook
  • Successful outcomes through self-advocacy


Meet patients and caregivers where they are.

Amplifying the experiences of positive role models only makes an impact if you can identify the best-fit channels to reach your audience. This can vary for each diagnosis area, so it’s essential to perform a thorough landscape analysis. Who are the influencers that are already driving engagement with your target population? Are there any popular health communities outside of the mainstream social networks?

Besides knowing where to reach people, this information should also shape how positive role models share their experiences as part of a campaign. This could impact use of elements like video, images, and text, as well as the length and tone of the content, which hashtags are used, and so on.

Go further by empowering 1:1 connections.

Positive role modeling can make an impact through one-way interactions, but for someone who is seeking change, the ability to connect and communicate directly with someone who has already started down that path is priceless.

Peer-to-peer mentorship means pairing patients or caregivers with others who come from the same community and have lived through the same challenging experiences. This unique kind of mentorship provides a more informal delivery system for modeling health-related self-efficacy and health literacy skills.

The relationship provides Mentees with a valuable source of emotional support which can reduce feelings of isolation and hopelessness that may impede them on the path to lasting, meaningful change. Conversely, it gives Mentors a sense of purpose that can reinforce the positive choices they have made and help give meaning to the personal struggle they’ve been through to get where they are.

When we ask patients across our engagement networks which types of resources they would find most valuable, peer mentor programs consistently come out on top.

Take the first step.

Ready to infuse the power of positive role modeling in your consumer health initiatives? Contact us to learn more about how this strategy can be tailored for your needs and start making an immediate impact on the success of your programs.

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