Background: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention (DHDSP) launched the Million Hearts® initiative in 2011 to prevent 1 million cardiovascular events, including heart attacks and strokes by 2017. The initiative aims to reach healthcare providers and consumers, with an emphasis on underserved populations, including African Americans and Hispanics. Million Hearts® has developed a comprehensive suite of culturally competent materials, and works to ensure that these materials reach those they were designed to help through preferred, proven, and effective dissemination channels.
Program background: DHDSP and Hager Sharp have successfully brought Million Hearts® messages to at-risk populations through promotional outreach around national health observances, most recently for American Heart Month (AHM) in February 2015. To guide our strategy, we used new CDC research identifying men, African Americans, and 30-74 year-olds in the southeast to be at higher risk of developing heart disease than the general population. Informed by these findings, we designed and implemented outreach efforts geared toward African American men between 30-74 years old with high blood pressure and their healthcare providers. Our main communications objective was to increase the target audiences’ use of Million Hearts®blood pressure control resources.
Evaluation Methods and Results: Million Hearts’®multi-pronged approach included partner engagement and collaboration, spokesperson coordination, paid and earned digital/traditional media, and social media engagement, and was measured by:
- Downloads of Million Hearts® African American-focused high blood pressure tools.
- Increase use of Million Hearts® high blood pressure tools by health care professionals.
- Engagement in Million Hearts® social media efforts, including users downloading and displaying the initiative’s AHM Twibbon and participating in its AHM ThunderClap and Twitter chat.
- Partners’ participation in amplifying DHDSP’s messages and materials.
Conclusions: By concentrating on one specific audience CDC maximized its resources and impact. Tactics focused on meeting the target audience where they are as well as providing them with a powerful and relatable survivor story, which contributed to the high level of engagement. Rallying partners around the existing AHM brand also increased participation and helped to amplify Million Hearts®messages and materials.
Implications for research and/or practice: Million Hearts® multi-pronged AHM campaign is a model that can be adopted by other agencies and programs to maximize the impact of health observances. Our deliberate approach maximized engagement.