Monday, September 12, 2005

Focus Groups on STD Communications

Just wandering around on the Internet can be an enlightening activity. That's how I stumbled across this report on some focus groups held in 2004 to find out more about what the general public knew and thought about STDs. Some of the focus groups were held in McAllen, Texas.

The Executive Summary is a very interesting read. Just cherry-picking some of the comments:

For most participants, STDs were not a major health concern. They said this was because other health conditions were more of a concern for them and because they just do not think of STDs except for AIDS.

. . .

The American Red Cross, CDC, and Planned Parenthood were frequently mentioned as specific organizations that would be trusted. Other trusted organizations include community-based organizations, doctors’ offices, health departments/clinics, and insurance companies. Participants further stated that they would not trust information developed by pharmaceutical companies.

Participants had mixed reactions to the notion of a specific spokesperson for an STD campaign. Some participants believed that individuals who have, or are affected by, a particular STD would be most appropriate. They also believed that other reputable celebrities with knowledge of health issues, such as the U.S. Surgeon General, would be appropriate representatives to speak about STDs. Other participants stated that the most believable spokesperson would be an "average person" who has been affected by an STD. These participants believed that this person would be able to provide a credible testimonial about his/her experience with STDs. African American participants believed that the most effective spokesperson to deliver STD messages to their community would be an African American person.

. . .

Across all segments participants stated that the main point of materials should be factual information about the diseases, their symptoms, and means to prevent them. Participants expressed that prevention information should focus on abstinence, safer sex, and condom usage. In addition, participants noted the importance of including resource information about whom to contact with questions or when experiencing symptoms.

. . .

Across the groups, participants recognized the need to be "realistic" about people engaging in sexual activity. This recognition led participants to suggest that a combination of abstinence and condom usage messages would be appropriate. Most people agreed that messages should focus on abstinence as an effective method to prevent STDs, but that providing information on using condoms correctly to reduce the likelihood of contracting STDs was imperative.

As I said, interesting.

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