Thursday, October 28, 2004

What is the point of health awareness campaigns?

They generally seem to affect the middle-classes and the young, who are unlikely to be ill, while they are ignored by the poor and the old. They do serve, however, as a point of contact between government and people's personal concerns, driven by fear of illness.

As Alice O'Keeffe notes: "The truth is that screening, and disease awareness in general, serve some rather powerful interests. Health is one of the few issues that continue to engage voters. Getting people to worry about disease and attend health screenings creates a sense that the government is intervening positively in their lives."

"I see it as a two-sided thing," says [Dr Michael] Fitzpatrick. "There's a drive from above, from the government, which wants to make health a central feature of policy, and from the medical establishment, which wants publicity. On the other side, there's a popular resonance. People don't find screening and endless tests intrusive - they want to get involved."

New Statesman - What good the pink ribbon?


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