The objective of this program was to raise awareness about hepatitis C, an infectious blood-borne disease that is under-diagnosed and thus under-treated. The campaign was funded by Schering Plough Corporation who was committed to providing public education and patient assistance. The campaign was launched in Minnesota in late 1998 and expanded to twelve additional states in 1999, 2000 & 2001.

  

Approach

Weber Shandwick took a non-branded public health approach to raising awareness about the disease and designed a program that built statewide coalitions of influential and interested community groups in each state.  We worked with coalition members to leverage their credibility with their constituencies, lawmakers and with the media to raise awareness about hepatitis C.

 

Targeted audiences for coalition membership  included the health care community, constituencies who represented groups at higher risk, including communities of color, veterans, AIDS/HIV, first responders and public agencies charged with combating the disease.

 

Strategies

  • The primary strategy was to was to utilize individual coalition members internal communication vehicles to deliver our campaign message.  We developed a host of tools such as newsletter articles, envelope stuffers, posters and brochures for individual coalition members to distribute.
  • Another strategy to reach the community was to facilitate and conduct community-based CME/CEU's in collaboration with affected populations, health care providers and public health agencies. 
  • Finally, particular focus was placed on developing a diverse Medical Advisory Board to review collateral materials and ensure clinical accuracy.  Diversity was defined both professionally and ethnically to include liver specialists, primary care 'community' clinicians and providers that served non-English-speaking communities.  Materials development included Spanish and Hmong versions translated by medical advisory board coalition members.

 

Results

The results in the first state to launch a statewide hepatitis C Coalition, were dramatic.  Awareness was raised and prescriptions of the treatment medication increased four-fold.  Furthermore, our client established credibility with important stakeholders such as state agency heads, key medical providers and powerful grassroots community groups for its commitment to conduct a non-branded campaign.  In addition, this public health approach to raising awareness about a disease was lauded by the Centers for Disease Control as a model for other disease prevention and awareness programs.   Weber Shandwick worked with more than 1,000 organizations and physicians across the country on this campaign